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Full text of "History of St. Margaret's Convent, Edinburgh, the first religious house founded in Scotland since the so-called Reformation : and the autobiography of the first religious, Sister Agnes Xavier Trail"

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Bishop of Limy ra, Vicar Apostolic of the Eastern District of Scotland. 

Tsdi . oc/^i ) lU 

g:bc 1Re\>i\>aI of Conventual Xife In Scotland). 


St. Margarets Convent, 


















To face page 1 9 




Page 28, line id, for "heat," read "beat." 
,, 224, ,, 3, „ " homum," rm^ "bonum. 

E)e&icatori? poem 



The Occasion of her Jubilee, Rosary Sunday, 
October 1883. 

15 Y 


A DARK, tempestuous, drear December day ! 

Behold ! an oak does battle with the storm. 

An ancient giant, o'er whose plumed head 

The shifting skies of centuries have spread 

Alternate canopies of sun and shade. 

Full many a triumph has the monarch won 

And baffled back the demon of the blast. 

Now, once again, the proud old crest is reared 

And all day long resists the fierce assault ; 

Now, bending till the branches lowermost 

Are crushed against the bosom of the earth ; 

Now, like Antaeus, from the same broad breast 

With freshened strength upspringing from each fall. 

At length, at Even when the angry wind — 

Its frantic force exhausted all in vain — 

With whistling shriek proclaimed itself o'ercome, 


And drave the clouds before it to the sea, 
The stars looked down upon a world at peace. 
Next morn I wandered through the wooded vale, 
Came presently beside the stalwart oak. 
And stood amazed to note how little ill 
The raging hurricane had wrought thereon ; 
Or, rather, how much good, for all around. 
Sad-coloured leaves that owned the garb of death. 
And sap-deserted branches lay in heaps, 
But not a living bough had fallen down. 
So that the storm, intent to slay the tree, 
Had only rent its useless parts away 
And blessed it with a newer, stronger life. 

Then, in the dim recess of far-off years, 

My mind, in retrospection, saw a scene 

Not all unHke the fight that had been here 

And in its issue even as its end. 

The oak — the Church — the storm — the nation's strife 

That hurled itself upon the spouse of God. 

The withered leaves and sapless branches too 

All played their part. The leaves th' unstable minds 

Throughout the contest lapsing from the arms 

In love outstretched, because they could not pierce 

The gathered gloom, and see the light of Truth 

Behind the mist of temporary sin ; 

And, so, afraid, fell towards the opposing ranks. 

Made " Faith " their watchword, but of faith had none. 

The branches, restless spirits, reconciled 

Not to the Church which they professed to serve. 

But to the ways of infamy and guile : 

Who, greedy of the labourer's hire, forgot 

To do the labourer's duty, and so fell. 

Or not so much did fall, as were cast off 

By Mother Church, ashamed of such bad sons. 

And then I mused on him ''^ who raised the storm. 
Who blew the blast of war about the Church, 

* Luther. 


In vain attempt to overthrow her sway. 

Some good he did, whose only thought was harm, 

For Satan never sent an ill on earth 

But by the providence of God was found 

To fall, a blunted shaft from off the shield 

Opposed by Faith to catch it ; or to hold 

Some element of good within itself 

Whereby alone it swayed awhile the world. 

So, he reformed thus much, that by his stir 

He shook from out the Church those sinful souls 

Who would be her undoing. But, he left 

The rock-foundationed temple of his God 

Unshattered and unharmed, and, furthermore, 

This man who first began the mighty strife 

Was first to make provision for its end, 

But all unconsciously. Like him of Thebes "^ 

Who sowed the dragon's teeth, and straightway saw 

A crop of armed men arise to life 

To fall anon upon a bloody death, 

He sowed a seed which took quick root and grew, 

And spread that crop of sects about the world 

Whose first brave deed, discovering that they lived, 

Forgetful they were offspring of one sire. 

Was to divide, form ranks, take arms and fight ; 

And this most fair beginning hath so pleased 

Their several children, these are fighting still, 

And only need a little time to fall, 

Merging their dust in that from whence they sprang. 

Now, when the seed of that sad fateful plant 
Which men call Heresy was broadcast sown, 
It fell and flourished in this Scottish land. 
Until it loomed a dark, stupendous growth, 
That hid the light of God's eternal truth. 
And drooped its shadow o'er the nation's heart. 
So sat for nearly thrice one hundred years 

* Cadmus. 


In self-elected darkness those weak men 
Who hurled " anathema " upon the Church, 
Denying God had sealed her with the right 
To guide their souls into the path of peace ; 
Claiming the guidance of the Holy Ghost 
Was theirs alone, and yet uniting not. 
Who some by this, and some by that way trod, 
And raving all against the Church's sway, 
Her spiritual chieftainship — assumed. 
And arrogated to themselves command, 
Each claiming his alone the right to rule. 
Forgetful of the words of Christ the Lord, 
" I am the Way ! I am the Truth ! the Light ! " 
Sect after sect sowed schism in itself, 
And each division ere it yet had grown 
To aught that spake of power, cleft again 
Until the land was rank with noxious weeds. 
But all the while the white pure flower of Faith 
Still blossomed, tended by the faithful few. 

The Church, meanwhile, reviving from her wounds 

Begins to rear her dauntless crest again. 

Sends forth a band of earnest souls, who strive 

In singleness of mind and life, once more 

To sow the long uprooted seed of Truth : 

Who, while the hostile camps make mutual war. 

Raise up the fallen altars of the Lord. 

The which, beholding, for a time the sects 

Forget their discord ; and uniting all 

Fall thick upon their common foe — the Church, 

Perceiving either she, or they must die. 

For one might fail, and all the rest prevail 

Or, all might sink before the might of one. 

Which last, and greatest, then might merge the whole ; 

But if the Church prevailing, should remain, 

Full well they knew her truth may slay them all. 

Before the world grew old enough to die. 

Too late defence ! The golden moment gained, 


The Church makes good her footing, and at length 

The roar of general battle dies away : 

A skirmish here, a rally there, and then 

The trumpets of the foe ring out retreat 

And all their hosts roll backward from the Church, 

As from the base of some colossal cliff. 

The mighty waves of mighty ocean roll 

Stupendous in their rage, but impotent ! 

And now the need for labourers grew apace. 

For, as the tree of heresy succumbed. 

Branch after branch shorn by the Spirit's sword, 

The too long intercepted Sun of Truth 

Shone out and brought the harvest on its beams. 

Then one "^ arose, unrolled, and shook on high 

The long neglected banner of the Cross, 

And filled with faith espoused the cause of Christ. 

Equipped in love, he wandered o'er the soil 

Of distant countries, pleading for his own. 

His voice, like music soothing after storm. 

Made mellow by the orator's sweet craft, 

Now rang sonorous as the trenchant tongue 

Made war upon the enemy of souls, 

Whose wiles so long had kept his land from God ; 

Now sank to plaintive softness, as he craved 

Some means to lighten those who sat in gloom. 

What wonder then, that those entranced hearts. 

Who, while they listened, fed on melody. 

Responded eager to his eager call ; 

Gave of their substance, and because his speech 

At once had burned like fire and soothed like balm, 

With one consent bestowed on him for name 

"John of the Golden Mouth" of latter days. 

Then, as the walls of ancient Troas rose 

In slow response to hidden harmonies, 

So, while his voice made music in the world 

* Rev. Dr. Gillis. 


In sweet appeal, the sleeping hearts awoke, 
And stone by stone the happy earth bestowed. 
And stone on stone was reared that sacred pile,* 
Meet temple for the priestesses of God ! 

So this gave gold, and that a gift of land^ 
Influence and example some would bring ; 
But one t who sat within her northern home, 
Stirred by the power of the preacher's word. 
Caught in his golden speech a special call, 
A cry that pierced her ever-listening soul^ 
A summons to the subject from the King : 
" Daughter, arise ! The harvest now is ripe. 
Go forth and gather for me till I come ! " 
Then bounded every pulse with holy joy, 
Throbbed fast her heart with pure ecstatic love ; 
Each impulse of her ardent will obeyed 
In sweet submission, and so murmuring 
" O Lord, I come to do Thy will," she brought 
Nor gold, nor lands, nor heritage, but this. 
The highest, noblest, best of gifts — herself ! 
What though the pleadings of parental love 
Fell sadly for a while upon her ear ! 
Though passionate devotion wept a space 
And strove to quench her holy fire with tears ! 
AVhat though the glitter of a gilded life 
Made effort to enchain her for the world, 
She heeded not, because her God had called ! 
And all her being rapturously rose 
In swift spontaneous answer, for she knew 
To sacrifice the dearest hopes of life 
For vestal years within the courts of God 
Was but to forfeit dross, and gain pure gold ; 
To miss a bauble and acquire a crown ; 
To lose the trifles of a few short years 
And win perfection for Eternity. 

* St. Margaret's Convent. + Mother Margaret Teresa. 


To kindlier shores she bent her footsteps then, 
With one,* like-souled, excelling her in years, 
But scarce more skilled to know the voice of Christ ; 
And, there abiding, for a space she strove 
By prayer, and holy living, much retreat, 
By contemplation face to face with God 
To learn more perfectly the chosen task. 
Ere long, moreover, she put on that garb. 
Which while it showed her widow to the world 
Proclaimed her spouse of Christ. Then set her face 
Across the sea, and yearned again for home. 
Anon, returned, and with her came a train 
Of noble women, careless of themselves 
So long as they fulfilled their high behest. 
Such souls as theirs, who formed that glorious band 
Had in a time of fiercer trouble, sought 
To animate the martyrs. So they came. 
Ignored at first, then fearfully opposed, 
They by their meek but mighty effort razed 
The difficult steep hill of human hate, 
Sowing all over it the seed of love. 
Which burst in blossom by and by, and shed 
A sweet forgotten fragrance o'er the land. 
So Love began, and Faith made constant prayer, 
While Hope sat ever in their steadfast hearts. 
Content to toil all through the downcast night. 
And drag their nets through seas of unbelief. 
Through oceans of intolerance and pride, 
. Because they knew their Master and the day 
Would come together, and their nets be full. 

Thereafter, soon the vineyard of the Lord 
Was filled with earnest workers, and to-day 
The Church that was erst while so sore bested 
Has step by step off-shaken all her foes. 
And stands resplendent and more glorious — 

* Sister Agnes Xavier. 


Though men perchance esteem her not so great — 
For she has suffered in the cause of God 
As hath no other Church before nor since. 
And, now, although some wounds are open still. 
She fronts her foes most proudly. Ay ! and points 
To those same wounds as emblems of the love 
That Christ her Founder lavishes on her ; 
Maintaining He has loved her well indeed 
Who for His sake hath suffered her to bleed, 
And decked her forehead with a martyr's crown, 
Undying, even in this dying world. 
So looked Sebastian, when the Roman barbs 
Made havoc of his life, and did not kill ! 

The Church, our mother, now gains ever ground, 
For every day some wanderers turn again 
To her true bosom, yearning to receive. 
And every land which cast her off before 
Holds now a band of faithful souls, whose cry 
Goes up in mighty unison — "How long?" 
And not a day but somewhere in the world 
The jubilant "Te Deum " swells to Heaven, 
While every seraph hymns angelic praise, 
Because another lamb has found the fold. 

Where better seek to prove this glorious truth 

Than here, in this fair land, where active strife 

Against the doctrine of the Church hath sunk 

To passive sufferance, and undismayed. 

Or with a partial discontent at most, 

The nation sees the land drift slowly back. 

But surely, to her ancient anchorage. 


Oh ! thou — the only one on earth to-day 

Of that bright holy missionary band, 

Who set aflame the vestal lamp once more, 

Who through the chance and change of fifty years 

Hast served like Anna in the house of God, 

To thee I bring these thoughts, and offer them 

To do thee honour ; yet not so much thee 

As Him who honours thee Himself to-day 

With richer guerdon than my hand can bring. 

For I can only weave a wreath of song 

And lay it at thy feet — too soon to fade. 

But God hath decked thee with another crown. 

And its unfading glory shall remain 

When mine hath been forgotten. It is well ! 


Preface . 


I. The Rev. James Gillis 

II. The Foundresses and their Noviciate 

III. Whitehouse— Letter of the Rev. J. Gillis to Miss Trail 

IV. Journey to Edinburgh — Establishment of the Com 

munity at St. Margaret's Convent, 1834 
V. The Congregation of the Ursulines of Jesus 
VI. Opening of the Convent Chapel — Ceremonial of giving 
the Rehgious Habit— Bishop Murdoch's Sermon 

VII. Benefactors — Presentation of the Sanctuary Lamp — 

Relics of St. Crescentia, V.M. — Departure of the 
Rev. Mother St. Hilaire — Letter of the Rev. James 
Gillis. 1835-1837 

VIII. Consecration of Bishop Gillis — His Labours for Scot- 

land — Letter to the Community of St. Margaret's — 
He visits ChaAagnes. 1838 . . . . 

IX. Mother St. John Chrysostom returns to France — Her 
Miraculous Cure — Deaths of St. Mary Philomena 
Kirsopp and Sr. Angela Witham. 1 839-1 844 












X. Labours of Bishop Gillis for the Advancement of Re- 
ligion — First Visit of Her Majesty Queen Victoria 
and the Prince Consort to Edinburgh. 1842 
XI. Death and Obsequies of Mr. Menzies of Pitfodels — 
Visit of His Royal Highness the Due de Bordeaux 
to St. Margaret's Convent. 1843 

XII. Milton House — Day Schools — Converts . 

XIII. Father O'Donnell — Dr. GilHs goes Abroad— His 

Letter to the Community of St. Margaret's — Plans 
for a Cathedral in Edinburgh. 1 847-1 849 . 

XIV. Corpus Christi Procession — Visit of the Ex-Queen of 

the French — The Dowager-Marchioness of Lothian 
— Death of Bishop Carruthers — Bill for the Inspec- 
tion of Convents — Definition of the Dogma of the 
Immaculate Conception. 1850-54 

XV. Departure of the French Rehgious — Mother Mary 
Angela Langdale named Superioress — Visit of the 
Duke of Montpensier — Panegyric on Joan of Arc — 
Arrival of Sisters of Mercy in Edinburgh — Fathers 
of the Society of Jesus. 1855-1860 

XVI. Addition to the Convent Buildings — Visit of the Bishop 
of Kingston — Mother Margaret Teresa visits Cha- 
vagnes — Bishop Gillis goes to Rome and Spain — 
Blessing of the New House. 1 861-1863 

XVII. Last Illness and Death of Bishop Gillis — His Funeral 
— Letter of His Eminence Cardinal Wiseman. 

XVIII. Mother Margaret Teresa elected Superioress — The 
Right Rev. Dr. Strain — St. Joseph's Convent, Perth 
— Sacrilegious Robbery in the Convent Chapel — 
Vatican Council. 1 864-1 871 .... 








CONTENTS. xvii- 


XIX. Removal of Father O'Donnell to Falkirk — Visit of the 
Emperor and Empress of Brazil — The Fathers of 
the Society of Jesus — Funeral of Mr. Hope Scott — 
New Bell — Banners for Paray le Monial — Poor 
Schools at York Lane and Maryfield. 1871-1875 187 

XX. Visits from the Mother-General of the French Con- 

gregation and from the Right Rev. Dr. Ullathorne — 
Purchase of Part of Warrender Park — Sunday 
School at Davidson's Mains — New Lady Altar. 
1875-1878 199 

XXI. Re-establishment of the Hierarchy — Return Home of 

Archbishop Strain — Marcia, Lady Herries — Sacred 
Heart Altar — Grotto of Lourdes — Last Illness and 
Death of Father O'Donnell — Death of Archbishop 

Strain. 1878-1883 208 

XXII. Celebration of Mother Margaret Teresa's Golden 
Jubilee — Foundation Stone laid of St. Ann's School 
— A Family Feast. 1883-1885 .... 219 

XXIII. Death of Mother Mary Angela — St. Ann's Seminary 

— Convent Education. 1885 . . . -225 

XXIV. Consecration of Archbishop Smith — His Reception at 

St. Margaret's Convent and at St. Ann's Seminary. 
1886 232 


xviii CONTENTS. 



I. Preliminary — Journey through Italy to Rome . .245 

II. Autobiography of Sister Agnes Xavier (Ann Agnes Trail), 

written at the request of the Rev. Thomas Glover, SJ. 271 

III. Portrait of Cardinal Odescalchi — Miss Trail leaves Rome 

— Her Residence at Hammersmith — Introduction to 
the Rev. James Gillis — Correspondence with him — 
Her Vocation — Noviciate at Chavagnes — And Return 
to Scotland ........ 347 

IV. Sister Agnes Xavier at St. Margaret's — Her Zeal and 

Religious Virtues — Her Illness and Death — Letter of 
Miss O'Neil Daunt 358 

The Golden Jubilee 37; 


To one who has been witness of the vast advance 
which the Catholic Religion has made in Calvinistic 
Scotland within the last fifty years, it must prove 
an interesting study to trace the causes of so re- 
markable and extensive a development. In that 
space of time, churches and convents, schools and 
orphanages, priests and religious, monks and nuns, 
have multiplied amazingly, and a thousand other 
active forces of Catholic life have been brouo^ht 
into play ; while the freedom now enjoyed by the 
lately persecuted members of the Church, and the 
kindly intercourse subsisting between them and 
their Protestant neighbours, contrast most strikingly 
with the penal restrictions of old and the once 
proverbial bigotry of the nation. 

Among the factors contributing to such a result, 
the Convent of St. Margaret's is deservedly num- 
bered. Founded in Edinburgh fifty years ago, it 
claims the honour of being the first religious house 
established in Scotland after three hundred years 


of banishment from a country where the magni- 
ficent remains of abbeys, priories, and convents 
show how flourishing they once had been ; and, 
though far Inferior to them In richness, In splendour, 
and extent, it has rivalled them In good works. 

The history, therefore, of such an Institution, 
appears most opportunely at the time when St. 
Margaret's Convent Is keeping her Golden Jubilee, 
and furnishes a fruitful theme of meditation to 
the Christian philosopher. For here, as In other 
cases, he will see how Divine Providence, when It 
appoints any great work to be done, brings upon 
the stage, at the right time, the right person In 
the right place. He will watch with interest the 
first Inspirations, and the gradual fashioning of the 
young enthusiastic Levlte Into the compliant Instru- 
ment of the work ; and will mark how, as he deve- 
loped in power, he was ever looking forward so far 
in advance of his age, and yet knew so well what 
suited Its wants at the moment. 

His genius to conceive, his skill to plan, his 
labours to realise, his unwearied zeal in consolidat- 
ing the work of his enthusiasm, are worthily re- 
corded in the following pages, as well as the efforts 
of the Sisters to correspond with the exertions of 
the Founder to bring the Convent up to such a 
state of efficiency as has made it an active Instru- 
ment In advancing the good cause. 


It Is a great chapter in the history of the CathoHc 
Church In Scotland, and I heartily recommend Its 
perusal to all who love to study the ways of God In 
bringing- about His designs. 


A7'chbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh. 
22nd Jidy 1886. 


Scotland, at the present day, possesses nearly 
twenty different Religious Orders or Religious Con- 
gregations, co-operating with a zealous priesthood 
in the work of saving souls, and devoting them- 
selves to all the works of mercy, spiritual and 
corporal. If we compare this state of things with 
the religious statistics of fifty years ago, we shall 
be surprised at the change which so short a space 
of time has effected, and naturally inquire how it 
has been brought about. 

Perhaps in no country did the so-called Reforma- 
tion effect its purpose of destruction more com- 
pletely than in Scotland. For three hundred years 
scarce a vestige of the ancient faith was to be 
found in all the length and breadth of the land. 
Churches, monasteries, charitable institutions of all 
kinds were swept away ; the wealthy Catholics 
who chose to save their souls at the expense of 
this world's comfort, went into voluntary exile ; the 
few faithful pastors who escaped death, or who 


ventured back from the foreign lands to which 
they had been banished, wandered about from one 
hiding-place to another, and at the risk of their 
lives administered the consolations of religion to 
their scattered flocks. 

Doubtless many causes have combined their in- 
fluence to bring about the comparative prosperity 
which we now enjoy : our present purpose does 
not lead us into a search for them ; but as Religious 
Orders have had their share in the merit of the 
good work, we wish to give the public some account 
of the circumstances under which these have re- 
gained a footing in Scotland, and we publish this 
little sketch on occasion of their "Golden Jubilee," 
the fiftieth anniversary of the foundation of St. 
Margaret's Convent. 

Balmez, the learned author of " Protestantism 
compared with Catholicity," says : — " Religious 
institutions are one of those points whereon Pro- 
testantism and Catholicity are in complete opposi- 
tion to each other ; the one destroys them, the 
other establishes and encouragfes them. One of 
the first acts of Protestantism, wherever it is in- 
troduced, is to attack religious institutions by its 
doctrine and its acts; it labours to destroy them 
immediately." We have no need to look beyond 
the boundaries of our own country for proofs of this 
double assertion ; the many ruins that still exist, 



and the still more numerous traditions, attest the 
truth of what is said reorarding: Catholic zeal and 
Protestant vandalism. It has been said that religion 
can exist without Monastic Institutions, and this 
no one will attempt to deny ; but because one 
thing- is not essential to the existence of another, 
it does not follow that the one has not its origin 
In the other ; on the contrary, it may tend to Its 
perfection, as flowers adorn a tree although they 
are not necessary to Its vitality. 

Dates of the Introduction to Scotland of the Religious 
Orders and Congregations at present Labouring in 
THIS Country. 




Ursulines of Jesus. 






Sisters of Mercy. 



Sisters of the Good Shepherd. 

1 85 1. 


Oblatesof Mary Im- 





... ... 



Sisters of Charity. 



Marist Brothers. 


Little Sisters of the Poor. 



Sisters of Nazareth. 


Sisters of the Immaculate Con- 






... ... 









Sisters of St. Joseph. 


Servants of the Sacred Heart. 



Benedictines of the Perpetual 





Count Montalembert, in his Introductory chapter 
to '' The Monks of the West," writes :— " Wherever 
the Catholic Church is not the object of open per- 
secution ; wherever she is allowed a legitimate 
portion of liberty, religious houses spring up as of 
themselves. We have despoiled and proscribed 
them ; — we see them everywhere return, sometimes 
under new names and appearances, but always 
with the ancient spirit. They neither reclaim nor 
regret their former grandeur, they confine them- 
selves to living, and to preaching both by word 
and example : without wealth, without pomp, with- 
out legal rights ; but not without friends, and, above 
all, not without enemies. Friends and enemies are 
alike interested to know whence they came and 
whence they draw the secret of a life so tenacious 
and so fruitful." Three hundred years have passed 
over Scotland since her hierarchy had been sup- 
pressed, and her monks and nuns driven into exile ; 
penal laws had weighed heavily on the exercise of 
religion, and the little that could be done was 
accomplished secretly and at the peril of life and 
liberty. But the watchfulness of the enemy at 
last began to relax. Before the end of last century 
many of the penal enactments had ceased to be 
enforced, and as Catholics became more numerous 
they also became more courageous. 

But yet, only fifty years ago, the glorious ritual 


of Catholic ceremonial was comparatively little 
known, and the service of Sunday was limited, as 
a rule, to Low Mass and a sermon. God's time 
had come, however, for the revival of the Church, 
and He was about to bring back to Scotland the 
relieious habit, so lonor scorned and abused. The 
instrument was being prepared for the work, and 
we shall see in this case, as in many others, how 
much may be accomplished by one generous soul, 
devoted to a holy cause, and labouring in absolute 
dependence upon the guidance of Divine Pro- 
vidence. It was reserved to the deceased Bishop 
Gillis to restore Religious Orders to Scotland, as 
likewise much of the external life of the Church 
in this country. 

It would be impossible to give even a sketch of 
the history of St. Margaret's Convent without con- 
stant allusion to the one who was its founder. 
We shall devote the following chapter to the early 
life of Bishop Gillis. It is not for us to attempt 
to write the life of this eminent man — we trust an 
abler pen will one day accomplish the task. From 
time to time, however, in the course of this little 
work, we shall, in his connection with St. Mar- 
garet's, bring Dr. Gillis before our readers, and 
thus in some measure prepare the way for a more 
detailed biography. 

The foundation of a Religious House, destined 


to promote the glory of God and the spiritual and 
temporal good of the sick, the needy, and the 
ignorant, Is at all times an undertaking meritorious 
in the sight of God, and claiming the gratitude of 
man. But when we again recall the fact, that for 
three hundred years not one such establishment 
had been allowed to exist in Scotland ; that the old 
monastic institutions had been utterly destroyed, 
and their memory blackened with the foulest calum- 
nies ; that these lying tales had been handed down 
from father to son for generations, and that they 
were received as gospel truths by the whole Scottish 
people ; we may in some degree measure the diffi- 
culties that surrounded the foundation of a Reli- 
gious House in Edinburgh ; and we may all the 
more ''render honour to whom honour is due," — 
to the young priest who so bravely faced all the 
obstacles placed in his way, by Catholics as well 
as Protestants ; the timidity of the former being at 
times as great a hindrance as the bigotry of the 

It is indeed evident that the founding of St. 
Margaret's meant something more than is implied 
in the founding of a convent at the present day. 

Surely the man who accomplished the resurrec- 
tion of Religious Orders deserves to be held In 
everlasting remembrance ! 

Edinburgh, 26//^ December 1884. 






This distinguished prelate was born at Montreal, 
Canada, 7th April 1802. His father was a Scotch- 
man, who had emigrated in early life, and having 
acquired a considerable fortune, settled in Montreal, 
where he married Miss Langley, a native of Kent, 
then a Protestant Episcopalian. The elder James 
Gillis belonged to an old Catholic family in Banff- 
shire, and from his childhood stood firm to his faith, 
although exposed to sneers and petty persecution on 
the part of his schoolfellows for so doing. 

The subject of this memoir was his only son, and 
It is to be supposed that he instilled the highest 
Catholic principles into the heart of his beloved 
child — the seed thus early sown in good ground 
having borne fruit a hundredfold ! When the boy 


was four years old, he narrowly escaped death. The 
house adjoining that of Mr. Gillis took fire, and the 
flames spreading rapidly, It was with difficulty that 
the child was rescued by his nurse, who carried him 
from his bed to a place of safety, through the snow 
of a Canadian winter's night. 

At an early age James Gillis was placed by his 
father at the Sulpician College in Montreal. The 
priests who conducted this college belonged to the 
Congregation of St. Sulpice, and had been sent out 
to Canada by Monsieur Oiler, the venerable founder 
of the congregation, the French Government having 
giving them the feudal superiority of the island on 
which Montreal is built. It was, doubtless, owing to 
his being placed in this college in his childhood that 
he acquired that proficiency in the French language 
for which he was afterwards so remarkable ; and it 
was here also that the first germs of his vocation to 
the ecclesiastical state were fostered and encouraged. 
It was his delight thus early to erect and decorate 
miniature altars, and to induce his young com- 
panions to join him in performing religious func- 
tions and exercises of piety. 

The College of Montreal appears to have been in 
high repute as an educational establishment, many 
of the youths who pursued their studies at the same 
time as James Gillis within Its walls having been 
distinguished in after life. 


The College Register contains the names of 
Messrs. Mondelet, M 'Cord, Bruneau, and HIppolyte 
Guy, all eminent at the bar ; the Hon. Charles de 
St. Ours, Conselller Leglslatif, and ''Son Honneur," 
Edouard Raymond Fabre, Maire of Montreal, father 
of Monselgneur Fabre, the present bishop of that 

In 18 16 Mr. Gillls disposed of his property In 
Montreal and returned to his native land, where, 
with his wife and son, he settled in the village of 
Fochabers, and ended his days in peaceful retire- 
ment. Mrs. Gillis survived him many years, and in 
her old age was afflicted with blindness. She had 
the happiness of being received into the Church 
some time before her death, which occurred in 1851. 
In 181 7 James Gillis entered the Seminary of Aqu- 
horties as an ecclesiastical student ; that institution 
had then for its Superior the Rev. James Kyle, 
afterwards Vicar Apostolic of the Northern District 
of Scotland. 

He had not been more than a year in this college 
when it was determined to send a number of the 
students to pursue their studies in France ; for a 
considerable portion of the property in Paris be- 
longing to the Scottish Mission, confiscated during 
the first Revolution, had been restored by the 
Bourbons, and Bishop Cameron thought it advisable 
to resume the practice of sending students to that 


country. Accordingly, after the preliminary arrange- 
ments had been made and the more serious diffi- 
culties surmounted, Mr. Gillls set out with four 
companions, 3d December 18 18, from Aquhortles. 
Having sailed from Aberdeen for London on the 
8th, they arrived In Paris on the 15th, and on the 
following day entered the Seminary of St. Nicholas, 
then the classical institution for the diocese of 

The old ''Scots College" of the Scotch Mission 
still exists In the Rue des Fosses, but the house was 
too large for the small body of students that could 
be maintained there ; and it was judged more ad- 
vantageous to let It to a tenant, and place the boys 
in one of the existing seminaries. 

At St. Nicholas, Mr. Gillls distinguished himself, 
and gained many honours, especially in the school 
of rhetoric. That he was much beloved by his 
fellow-students we have a touching proof. On the 
completion of his course of study, they addressed 
him in a farewell ode, which expressed their admira- 
tion of his talents, and their affectionate esteem for 
his virtue and amiability. Among his companions 
was the late Monslgnor Surat, Vicar-General of the 
late Cardinal Morlot, Archbishop of Paris, and one 
of the victims of the Commune in 1871. After the 
death of Bishop Gillls, Monslgnor Surat recalled 
the time they had passed together In their early 


days. He says, *'At the Petit Seminaire, he 
(James Gillis) was always at the head of his class, 
always had the first places in competitions, the 
best prizes and highest distinctions in examinations. 
He worked and studied with indefatigable ardour, 
even to the prejudice of his health." The same 
friend testifies to the proficiency of Mr. Gillis, 
when he passed on to the Grand Seminaire, where 
he beofan to eive evidence of what he became in 
after years. *' He spoke with remarkable facility 
and eloquence, and excelled his companions in 
everything without effort, and with great simpli- 
city. In his conduct he was always extremely 
exact to rule, pious and edifying." What higher 
eulogium could be passed on an ecclesiastical 
student ? The late Bishop of Orleans, Monseigneur 
Dupanloup, was another fellow-student of Mr. 
Gillis, and in like manner retained through life 
the greatest esteem and regard for him. 

Mr. Gillis left St. Nicholas in October 1823, and 
entered the Seminary of Issy, a house belonging to 
the Sulplcians, to study philosophy and theology, 
but his health gave way, and he was obliged to 
return to Scotland, which he did in April 1826. 
In the autumn of that year he was able to resume 
his studies under the direction of Bishop Scott, in 
Glasgow. He was ordained priest by Bishop 
Paterson at Aquhorties, on the 9th of June 1827. 


A great part of the first year after his ordination 
he spent at Blairs with Mr. Menzies of Pitfodels, 
whose acquaintance he had made in Paris, and 
whilst revising his studies, he took charge of the 
CathoHcs in the neighbourhood. 

On the death of Bishop Cameron, 7th February 
1828, his successor, Bishop Paterson, took Mr. 
GilHs with him to Edinburgh, and committed to 
him the charge of conducting the ceremonial of the 
deceased prelate's funeral. It was on this occasion 
that he began to display on a more extended scale 
that taste for relio^ious ceremonial for which he 
became so distinguished. His delicate health pre- 
cluded him from the more arduous duties of a 
missionary ; but his zeal was ever ardent, and he 
devoted himself with great energy to the duties of 
preaching and teaching Christian doctrine to the 
poor Catholic children whom he assembled on 
Sundays, and to whose instruction he willingly 
devoted all his ability and earnestness of purpose. 
He knew the importance of taking hold of the rising 
generation, and consequently nothing was little in 
his eyes when the care of children was concerned. 
He spared no pains to render his catechism attrac- 
tive to his young flock, and his efforts met with the 
success he most desired — the increasing number of 
those who attended his instructions, and their fervent 
and persevering practice of the duties of religion. 


His eloquence in the pulpit now began to attract 
notice. In 1828 he was deputed by Bishop Paterson 
to collect money in France for the repairs of St. 
Mary's Chapel, Broughton Street, Edinburgh. The 
French archbishops and bishops received the young 
missionary with the utmost kindness, and furthered 
his undertaking by their sympathy and recommen- 
dations. He raised a considerable sum in Paris and 
other large towns, and thus enabled the Bishop to 
make the necessary repairs, to enlarge the Church 
and adorn the interior. He took advantage of his 
stay in France to make a spiritual retreat in the 
Monastery of La Trappe. Far from the scene of 
his missionary labours, he thought of poor Scotland, 
grieved over her apostasy, prayed for her return 
to the ancient faith, and again offered himself to 
labour with all his strength for the salvation of 
souls, and the advancement of the Church in that 
unhappy country where heresy had so long reigned 

The thought occurred to him that if Religious 
Orders could be restored, much might be accom- 
plished through their instrumentality, and he finally 
resolved to leave nothing undone to carry this idea 
into effect. He felt that the inspiration came from 
God, and that He would provide all that was neces- 
sary to its fulfilment. Amongst the ecclesiastics 
following the exercises of the same retreat was 


Monselgneur Soyer, Bishop of Lugon, and to this 
distinguished prelate Mr. Gillis spoke of his pro- 
ject with all its accompanying hopes and fears. 
Monselgneur Soyer was a man of large and generous 
views ; and he at once entered warmly into the 
design laid before him. His own diocese was then 
just recovering from the devastation caused by the 
Revolution, and he could well understand the 
difficulties attending the restoration of religion in 
Scotland ; consequently he was all the more ready 
to assist Mr. Gillis as far as it lay in his power. 

Amongst his priests at Lu^on there was a holy 
man who had done much to repair the evil wrought 
by the storm of infidel fury, — this was the Rev. 
Louis Marie Baudouin, now declared ** Venerable " 
by the Church. 

Besides seminaries for the education of the priest- 
hood, the Abbe Baudouin had founded a congrega- 
tion of religious women, called Ursulines of Jesus, 
devoted chiefly to the instruction of youth. It seemed 
to Monseigneur Soyer that such a congregation 
would be admirably adapted to the purposes of Mr. 
Gillis, and proposed that the latter should make 
himself personally acquainted with it, promising 
him, at the same time, all the assistance in his 
power, when circumstances should favour the 
execution of his design. Consequently, after the 
retreat, Mr. Gillis accompanied the Bishop to 


Lu^on, and was introduced by him to the sister- 
hood as well as to the saintly founder, the Abbe 
Baudouin. Some acquaintance with the rules and 
constitutions of the congregation confirmed the 
favourable impression it made upon his mind, and 
Mr. Gillis determined to solicit the consent of his 
own ecclesiastical superior for leave to establish a 
house of this order in Edinburgh. 

The look of sanctity which shone in the counte- 
nance of the Abbe Baudouin made a deep im- 
pression on Mr. Gillis, and not less favourable was 
the opinion formed in the mind of the holy old man 
regarding the zealous young priest with whom he 
was now contracting friendship. It would appear 
that about this time Mr. Gillis had serious thoughts 
of retiring from missionary duties, and himself 
entering a religious order. To come to a decision 
on this important point, he made a spiritual retreat 
at the Jesuit Noviciate House, Montrouge ; his 
reflections resulted in the determination to devote 
his life to the service of God and the Church in 
Scotland. This retreat was made in January 1830. 
The Revolution of that year breaking out, it was 
with difficulty that he effected his escape and re- 
turned home. 

The royal family of France arrived shortly after 
in Edinburgh. During the sojourn of the royal 
exiles at Holy rood Palace, Mr. Gillis was much 


engaged in rendering service to them, and to the 
members of their suite ; this he did gladly, out of 
gratitude for the kindness with which he had been 
treated in France. A valuable souvenir of the 
Bourbon family exists at St. Mary's in the magni- 
ficent Monstrance presented by Charles X. on the 
occasion of the first communion of the Due de 

In 1 83 1 Mr. Menzies of Pitfodels came to re- 
side permanently in Edinburgh, and he persuaded 
Bishop Paterson to live with him at his house, 
24 York Place. The Bishop took Mr. Gillis with 
him, as his secretary, and it was probably at this 
period that the intimacy between Mr. Gillis and 
Mr. Menzies was contracted, which never flagged 
during the long years they lived together, and 
which has borne undying fruit for the good of 
religion in Scotland. 

We have seen that one of the objects dearest to 
the heart of the zealous priest was the instruction 
of the young. He felt that unless the rising gene- 
ration was carefully taught, there would be little 
hope of improvement in the religious future of the 
country. He longed to see labourers in the field 
training the young to the knowledge and practise 
of piety and virtue. It frequendy recurred to his 
mind that his desires might best be accomplished 
by a body of Religious, such as he had seen at 


Lugon, devoted to teaching, who would show both 
by word and example how the Christian virtues 
should be practised. He knew well that prejudice 
and bigotry, and even the laws of the land, forbade 
the existence of such an establishment in Scotland. 
But the penal laws were beginning to be relaxed, 
and he had no doubt but that all other obstacles 
would likewise disappear if the true nature of the 
religious life were better known. He prayed and pon- 
dered ; he saw the all but insurmountable difficulties 
of the case. He was a young priest, without Influ- 
ence, experience, or worldly means. He knew the 
timidity of Catholics, and how even they would op- 
pose the introduction of monks and nuns as being 
rash and impracticable. But, above all, he trusted in 
the power of God, and he felt that when the time 
came for the work to be done, God would Himself 
prepare the way, and send the means. He offered 
himself, therefore, to the bishop. Dr. Paterson, to 
take the first step towards the realisation of the 
project, by again undertaking a tour on the Conti- 
nent, to collect funds for the establishment of a 
convent in Edinburgh. The French royal family 
furnished him with letters of introduction and re- 
commendation, and he set out on a journey through 
France, Spain, and Italy. The state of France was 
at that period so disturbed that he had much diffi- 
culty in enlisting public sympathy In favour of his 


mission. In Spain it had not been hitherto the 
custom to go about soliciting contributions for chari- 
table purposes, and many were the humiliations and 
rebuffs he received. In Italy, too, he encountered 
many repulses. Still he returned home with a con- 
siderable sum wherewith to begin the work. 

During his absence on the Continent he had re- 
ceived the sad news of the death of Bishop Pater- 
son. On the very eve of his death, Dr. Paterson had 
written him a letter full of affection and encourage- 
ment — lines which served to cheer him in many a 
subsequent trial. This estimable prelate died sud- 
denly on the 30th October 1831, and his demise cast 
a gloom over the whole of the Eastern District of 

It would appear that Dr. Paterson had looked 
forward to having the assistance of Mr. Gillis as his 
coadjutor. When his papers were examined after 
his decease a form of postulation was found, in which 
he petitioned the Holy See for this appointment. 
The petition, however, was never sent, as the other 
Vicars Apostolic considered that, notwithstanding the 
high qualities of Mr. Gillis, he was too young to be 
intrusted with the burden of so responsible a charge ; 
in little more than a year after, the Rev. Andrew 
Carruthers was raised to the dignity. Soon after 
his return to Edinburgh, in 1832, Mr. Gillis under- 
took the erection of the small buildine known as the 



Cloister Chapel, which has always been a very useful 
addition to St. Mary's Church, for week-day Masses, 
Sunday Schools, Instructions, &c. 

The consecration of Bishop Carruthers took place 
on the 13th January 1833. Mr. Gillis exerted him- 
self to make the rite as solemn and imposing as 
circumstances would allow ; he partly conducted the 
ceremonies and preached the consecration sermon, 
on the text, '' Thou art a priest for ever according 
to the order of Melchisedech " (Ps. cix.). The con- 
secrating bishop was the Right Rev. Dr. Penswick, 
V.A., of the Northern District in England; the 
assisting bishops were Dr. Scott of the Western 
District, Scotland, and Dr. Kyle of the Northern 
District. A numerous body of clergy attended on 
the occasion, — and as we read the honoured names of 
Macpherson, Keenan, John Gordon, and others (all 
now gone to their reward), we cannot but thank God 
for the good work done by those holy and zealous 
priests, whose remembrance recalls every sacerdotal 
virtue, and whose lot was cast in times wherein 
their enerc^ies and self-sacrifice must have been taxed 
to the very utmost. As each one passed away, he 
might well say, '' I have fought the good fight, I 
have finished my course, and now there is laid up 
for me a crown of righteousness." 

In this year, 1833, the name of Mr. Gillis was on 
the list of candidates presented to Propaganda as 


coadjutor to Dr. Macdonell, Bishop of Kingston, 
Upper Canada. 

As soon as the affairs of the Diocese were settled, 
Mr. GilHs set in earnest about the project he had 
so long at heart, the foundation of a convent in 
Edinburgh. The death of Dr. Paterson had re- 
tarded its realisation : but Dr. Carruthers willingly 
sanctioned the undertaking, and Mr. Menzles entered 
warmly into the project, and promised substantial 
aid towards its accomplishment. 

So great and distinguished a benefactor as Mr. 
Menzles of Pitfodels deserves more than a passing 
word, but our space will not allow us to give more 
than a brief notice of this esteemed gentleman. 
John Menzles was descended from a very old and 
opulent family in Aberdeenshire. He was born in 
1756, and surviving till 1843, he witnessed nearly 
a century of Catholic history ; and by his exemplary 
piety and extensive charities he identified himself 
with religion in every possible way. He was 
left a widower while still a young man, and this 
affliction weaned him from the world, and from 
that time his life was but one continued series of 
good works. 

In 1828 he bestowed on the Catholic clergy of 
Scotland the extensive estate of Blairs, near Aber- 
deen, for the foundation and support of a Catholic 
college, and, as we have seen, came to reside in 


Edinburgh In 183 1. He was much regretted in 
Aberdeenshire, where he was beloved and respected 
by men of all classes and creeds, and of which 
county he had been unanimously elected Convener 
in 1 8 10, an office which he held till 1823. He 
resigned this honourable post on going abroad, 
and received the thanks of the constituency for his 
distinguished services. His residing in Edin- 
burgh was an Immense gain to religion and to all 
charitable undertakings. 

( i6 ) 



While Mr. Gillls was pondering and praying over 
his cherished project, Divine Providence was pre- 
paring the instruments who were to aid in the 

Two Scotch ladies, differing as much in age as 
in other circumstances, and totally unknown to each 
other, were at the same time being drawn towards 
the religious life, and were desirous of devoting 
themselves to Scotland. 

One of these was Miss Ann Agnes Trail, daughter 
of a minister of the Established Church of Scotland. 
She went to Italy in 1826, in order to cultivate her 
remarkable talent for painting, and was there con- 
verted and received into the Church in Rome, on 
the i6th June 1828, by His Eminence, Cardinal 
Odescalchi. During the course of the following 
year. Miss Trail returned to Scotland, and spent 
some months with her family ; then went to London 
to consult an eminent oculist, and was invited by 
the Lady Abbess of the Benedictine Convent at 
Hammersmith to pay her a visit. It was during 


this visit that she was introduced to Mr. Gillis, who 
was passing through London on his way to the 
Continent, as before stated. 

She was deHghted to hear from him that the 
faith was making progress in her native country, 
and was much impressed by the earnestness and 
piety of the zealous missionary ; his project, too, 
found a sympathising chord in her heart, and on his 
return to England she wrote to him, offering herself 
as a member of his projected Community, being 
desirous of devoting her talents and her life to the 
glory of God in her native land. Her resolution 
was a subject of great joy and thanksgiving to 
Mr. Gillis. 

Miss Trail was so widely known, and her former 
zeal in the defence of her father's creed had been so 
edifying to the Protestants, that her conversion to 
Catholicity naturally attracted a great deal of atten- 
tion. She possessed a masculine strength of mind, 
and a highly cultivated intellect. She was credited 
with having gone to Rome with proselytising inten- 
tions, being spoken of as " The lady that went to 
Rome to convert the Pope." Being about thirty 
years of age at the time of her conversion, she did 
not seem a person to be easily influenced against 
her own convictions ; she was, therefore, a very fit- 
ting instrument for the work which was expected to 



be accomplished by the nuns in this Protestant 
country, and she fulfilled the expectations of those 
interested in the foundation. At the request of her 
spiritual director, the Rev. Father Glover, S.J., she 
wrote an account of her religious experiences from 
her infancy, and we purpose giving to the public 
this most interesting history, in a short biography, 
at the end of this book. 

The other lady. Miss Margaret Clapperton, was 
barely twenty-one years of age, and had always 
been a Catholic. A native of Fochabers, where 
Mr. Gillis's parents lived, she had known Mr. Gillis 
from her earliest years. Moreover, she had long 
secretly cherished a desire to give herself to the 
service of God in religion, and when she heard of 
the proposal to establish a convent at Edinburgh, 
she at once offered herself and was accepted. Her 
father opposed her design, fearing that she might 
not find in the religious life the happiness she anti- 
cipated ; but being of a very resolute disposition, 
and firmly believing that her vocation was divine, 
she withdrew from her home on her own responsi- 
bility and joined Miss Trail in London. She still 
survives, and is an active member of the Community 
whose first fifty years of existence she now sees 

The vocation of these two ladies eave Mr. Gillis 



great encouragement. He saw the finger of God 
in the wonderful ways that had brought them to 
him, and he augured good from the circumstances. 
It was agreed that Miss Trail and Miss Clapperton 
should proceed to Chavagnes together to commence 
their noviciate in the Mother House of the Ursulines 
of Jesus, and there they arrived on the 31st of 
August 1833. 

The Congregation still enjoyed the advantage of 
being governed and directed by its saintly founder, 
the Abbe Baudouin. Mother St. Hilaire was the 
superior-general, and Mother Emmanuel- mistress 
of novices. The chaplain was the venerable Father 
Fleurisson, even then universally known and spoken 
of as " Le bon saint homme." The two Scotch 
postulants were thus formed to the religious life and 
to the rules and customs of the Congregation by the 
holy founder himself, and those whom he had trained. 
Every attention was paid to them, for the Abbe 
Baudouin and the other superiors had formed a very 
high estimate of the virtue and pure intentions of 
.Mr. Gillis, and therefore took a lively interest in his 

About six weeks were spent in the usual exer- 
cises of the first probation, and on Rosary Sunday, 
the 6th of October, Miss Trail and Miss Clapperton 
received the long-wished-for habit of religon. Mr. 


Gillls repaired to Chavagnes for this occasion, and 
the Bishop of Lucon, who had arrived on purpose 
to perform the ceremony, courteously ceded his 
place to him ; it was a truly happy day for him 
when he gave the veil to the foundresses of St. 
Marearets Convent. Miss Trail took the name 
of Sister Agnes Xavier, and Miss Clapperton that 
of Sister Margaret Teresa. Rosary Sunday has 
ever since been commemorated as '' foundation- 
day" — a day of joy and thanksgiving to the Com- 
munity. The novices remained at Chavagnes till 
the following summer, being trained by their holy 
and experienced mistress in all the virtues that 
should adorn a religious, and gaining all hearts 
by their simple piety and straightforwardness of 

Many members of the Community at Chavagnes 
longed to accompany them to Scotland, and to share 
in the difficulties as well as in the merit of the new 
foundation, so interesting in many ways, and offering 
so wide a field for zeal and self-sacrifice. The Rev. 
Mother St. Hilaire, whose term of superiority was 
drawing to a close, offered herself to head the little 
band, and Mr. Gillis was truly happy to secure the 
assistance of so distinguished a member of the 
Congregation. All who offered themselves could 
not be accepted ; those finally chosen were the Rev. 


Mother St. Hllaire, Mother St. Paula, Sister St. 
Damian, Sister Alexis, Sister John Chrysostom, 
Sister Mary Emily, Sister Angelina, and two 
lay Sisters — Sister Stephen and Sister Eustelle, 
who, with the two Scotch Sisters, made a party of 

( 22 ) 



While these fervent souls, destined to be the first 
inmates of the projected convent, were preparing in 
their peaceful home at Chavagnes for the arduous 
labours of the future, Mr. Gillis was endeavouring 
to procure a suitable locality for the convent ; which, 
as may easily be imagined, he did not accomplish 
without a great deal of difficulty and opposition. 
At last he succeeded in purchasing a large house 
and garden, situated in the suburbs to the south of 
the city. This house was known as *' Whitehouse," 
and gave its name to the shady lane which runs 
from Bruntsfield Links to the Grange Road ; a 
house not without a certain literary history of its 
own, for within its walls Principal Robertson wrote 
his '' History of Charles the Fifth," Home his 
" Douglas," and Dr. Blair his famous '' Lectures." 
It was an old house, part of it being known to have 
existed long before the Revolution, but it was sub- 
stantial and well built; and after Mr. Gillis had 
altered it to suit its future purpose, it assumed a 


most conventual appearance. About the time that 
this purchase was effected, Mr. Menzies bought 
Greenhill Cottage in the same neighbourhood, and 
fixed his permanent residence there, taking Mr. 
GilHs to live with him as his private chaplain. 
This was a providential arrangement for the good 
of the future Community, for the pious old gentle- 
man, who had furnished the means to purchase 
Whitehouse, continued till his death a kind and 
generous benefactor. Mr. Glllis, by living so near 
the convent, was able to render the Sisters all the 
spiritual assistance possible, in those days when 
priests were few. 

The Interior of the house once prepared for the 
nuns, Mr. GIllIs proceeded to lay the foundation of 
the chapel, which was designed by Mr. Gillespie 
Graham, under whose able direction the edifice 
made rapid progress, and was naturally an object of 
great curiosity and interest to the many visitors 
who watched the advance of the work with various 
feelings. One day while the labourers were em- 
ployed in digging the foundations of the chapel 
and excavating for the construction of the vaults, 
a Catholic gentleman (Colonel Macdonell) entered 
the grounds to see how they were proceeding. He 
was much amused by an old Presbyterian minister 
and his wife, who were gazing down into the 
excavations with looks of horror. At length one 


said to the other, " There will be deeds of darkness 
done here ! " 

Doubtless the worthy couple were not the only 
persons who indulged in similar conjectures. On 
the whole, the amount of Protestant opposition 
was not great, while many difficulties were raised 
by timid Catholics, who thought the undertaking 
rash and premature. 

In a letter addressed by Dr. Gillis to Miss Trail 
at Chavagnes we find the expression of some of his 
sorrows and consolations. He says: ** I have only 
to say that I have been overwhelmed with labours 
and difficulties of every kind ; but no more about 
this, for, thank God, the greatest of them are now, 
I trust, fairly overcome. Now to what will interest 
you more. We have got a house, and a most excel- 
lent one ; and I have this day given in the plans for 
some necessary additions, and for a very neat chapel, 
which I hope to see finished in the course of the 
summer. We have a beautiful garden, containing 
more than an acre and a half of ground, besides 
back ground, with a range of farm offices, dairy, 
stables, &c. &c. ; and we are about to purchase 
three additional acres of ground Immediately adjoin- 
ing to our tenement, which will make in all rather 
more than five acres of ground, so that we shall be 
quite at home. The name of the place is of happy 
omen — it is called ' Whitehouse,' the literal transla- 


tlon of the Latin name ' Candida Casa/ the name 
of the most ancient Christian estabHshment in Scot- 
land. It is situated at the head of Bruntsfield 
Links, in the most healthy situation about Edin- 
burgh, entirely screened from the easterly winds 
which are our greatest trial here, and in the im- 
mediate vicinity of a tract of land so healthy and 
agreeably situated that it goes by the name of the 
Land of Promise. It is the spot to which all the 
invalids are sent for their health. The house, 
though quite retired, is yet at no great distance 
from the town, being just fifteen minutes very 
moderate walking from the new chapel we are now 
building at the end of Lothian Street, which runs 
parallel with the south side of the College. Besides 
Whitehouse, I have likewise, or rather Mr. Menzies 
has, purchased a nice convenient cottage about a 
gunshot from the door of the convent, where he and 
I are to live, if God spare us, and which is to be left 
for the chaplain's dwelling ; but keep this to your- 
selves. Lady Carmarthen has promised me all her 
interest, and she has already begun her begging 
operations. Do pray for me that I may be enabled 
to get all things prepared for you, and that Provi- 
dence may send me wherewith to build our chapel, 
&c. I have become personally bound for the whole 
purchase price, which is ;^3000 for the house, 
garden, &c., exclusive of the three additional acres 


we are now thinking of taking. But Providence has 
been very kind ; I am getting new proofs every day 
that God never abandons us when we rely entirely 
upon Him. The whole affair, as you may well 
suppose, is making a dreadful stir among the saints. 
I am glad of it ; it will act as the safety-valve of a 
steam-engine — the whole will evaporate In noise and 
smoke ; and when you come it will not be possible 
for them to raise an opposition to it. On the other 
hand again, the best possible feeling has been 
evinced by the most respectable Protestants In 
town, who are disposed to give it every possible 
support. Oh ! you have no idea how fast the 
whole church machinery is going to pieces here ; 
the incoming General Assembly is expected to be 
a most stormy one. Dr. Inglls is dead, and Dr. 
Chalmers is done for ; he had a stroke of palsy 
some time ago, from the effects of which he never 
will recover so as to be himself again. What do 
you think he did in one of his last theological 
lectures at the College here ? After a great deal of 
violent declamation against the Catholics, he main- 
tained that they did not believe in the divinity of 
Jesus Christ. A Catholic gentleman, a great ad- 
mirer of his, and one of his particular friends, and 
who used to attend his lectures regularly, asked 
him immediately after the lecture how a man of his 
sense could condescend to repeat such 'abominable 


nonsense,' and what he must have known full well 
to be 'abominable falsehood.' 'My good friend/ 
said Chalmers, ' I had a difficult task to fulfil this 
morning ; very few persons are now disposed to 
support our Establishment, and the fact is, people 
must sometimes do the best they can.' I never 
could have believed that of Chalmers had I not 
heard It from his friend's own mouth, a gentleman 
of unimpeachable veracity in any case, but especially 
In this. 

" I called upon Dr. Gordon and gave him your 
letter and book ; he received me very graciously, 
and we had a long chat about you and France, 
&c. &c. Since then he has shown the cloven 
foot likewise. He happens to be a trustee for a 
bankrupt estate, part of which we purchased for a 
site of our new chapel in Lothian Street. After 
selling us the ground, and allowing the chapel to 
be more than half finished, he thought proper to 
refuse giving us anything like title-deeds, because, 
forsooth, he could have no hand in encouraging 
the erection of a popish chapel ; however, he has 
been forced to give them since. ... I shall men- 
tion to the superior-general, to whom I intend 
writing immediately, the necessity of having a 
person at the head of the Sister of Charity depart- 
ment that has already been accustomed to the 
thing. I can send no more novices from here ; 


indeed It Is now scarcely worth while. . . . Did I 
tell you that we have got a very valuable addi- 
tion to our noviciate here in the person of Miss 
Eliza WItham, a very pious, agreeable, and accom- 
plished young person from the North of England ? 
Her father has the estate of Lartlngton. I heard 
the other day from Mrs. Colonel Macdonell, who 
had it from the Countess Macnamara, that Miss 
Agnew/ a recent convert, a niece of Sir Andrew 
Agnew, was quite determined to join our establish- 
ment of Whitehouse. She Is now in Paris with 
her mother. ... I have written and sent off a 
long letter to Cardinal Weld about Whitehouse, 
and I owe a letter, likewise, to the good Bishop 
of Lugon. God help me ! I have so many irons 
in the fire, I don't know which to heat first! — 
Yours very sincerely in Jesus Christ, 

" Jas. Gillis." 

1 Authoress of " Geraldine ;" she became a Sister of Mercy. 

( ^9 ) 



The preparations in Edinburgh being nearly com- 
pleted, the Sisters began to make arrangements for 
their journey to Scotland. Sister Agnes Xavler 
and Sister Alexis went to Paris together some time 
before the rest, In order to take lessons in litho- 
graphy ; then on the 27th July 1834 the others 
bade farewell to the home of their happy novice- 
ship, leaving many behind to regret them. It 
was not generally known in the Community of 
Chavagnes that the mother - general was really 
going to Scotland, but It was suspected, and In 
order to spare both her sisters and herself the 
pain of saying farewell, Mother St. Hilaire kept 
her resolution quiet. On the day of her departure 
she went to the chapel and intoned vespers as 
usual, but quitted the house before the office was 
over. The travellers all met in Paris. Sister 
Agnes Xavler accompanied her companions to 
Calais, but Sister St. John Chrysostom and Sister 


Alexis remained yet for some time, to enable the 
latter to continue her study of lithography. 

When on the point of embarking at Calais, a 
difficulty presented itself which caused some delay. 
The French Sisters had omitted to procure from 
the Minister of the Interior the necessary per- 
mission to leave their country. As soon as this 
was forwarded to them from Paris, they crossed 
the Channel to Dover and proceeded In two 
parties to London. The Benedictine Community 
at Hammersmith received them, and entertained 
them with more than sisterly kindness and attention 
until after the Assumption. Mother St. Hilaire 
and Sister Agnes Xavler travelled to Scotland by 
stage-coach, the remainder of the party by sea. 
Captain Anthony Trail kindly saw them on board 
the steamer, and they had a safe and pleasant 
voyage, the incidents of which will best be related 
by a letter which Mr. Gillis addressed to his friend, 
the Abbe Dubois, and which was published In 
''LamI de la Religion" of 20th November 1834: 
" Thank God, all has hitherto gone well with our 
religious, and I venture to hope that the more 
serious difficulties have been overcome. Their 
journey from Chavagnes to Edinburgh was most 
prosperous ; and from London they were over- 
whelmed with attention. There were ninety 
passengers on board. After dinner, the health 


was proposed of Lord Ponsonby, the Protestant 
Bishop of Derry, who was on his way to his 
Diocese in Ireland. After this toast had been 
honoured, a gentleman rose and proposed the 
health of the good nuns who were accompanying 
them to Edinburgh ; the toast was most graciously 
received by every one, Including the Protestant 
bishop. On the second day the religious entered 
the saloon after dinner had begun ; every one rose 
to beg them to take their places near the head of 
the table. Since their arrival in Edinburgh, not 
a single article has appeared in the numerous 
papers, such as might have been expected from 
Presbyterian prejudice. Some few bigots look 
with a jaundiced eye on the new establishment, 
but do not venture to give open expression to their 
feelings. Nothing Is talked of but the convent; 
men, women, and children, high and low, rich and 
poor, ministers of every sort — every one, in short, 
comes to see it. 

*' Of our Convent of St. Margaret, at least, no one 
can say that it contains prisons, dungeons, or any 
of the horrors related of monasteries. The house 
is nearly finished, and Is really very pretty; all 
who visit it, except a few Puritans, are delighted 
with it. An elegant chapel has just been arranged, 
&c. . . ." 

The convent was not completed, however, by 


the time the Sisters reached Edinburgh, and they 
were provided with a comfortable temporary home 
in the residence of Mr. Stevenson, at Argyle Park. 
Mr. Stevenson and his sons Hved in hired apart- 
ments during the four months that the nuns occu- 
pied his house, whilst Mrs. Stevenson and her 
daughters vied with each other in showing their 
guests the greatest respect and hospitality. A 
little oratory was fitted up for their use, the sim- 
plicity of which may be inferred from the fact that 
a chest of drawers served for the altar ; the first 
Mass there was said by Mr. Strain, afterwards 
Vicar Apostolic, and finally Archbishop of St. 
Andrews and Edinburgh. Many of the Edin- 
burgh Catholics called during this period to 
make acquaintance with the nuns, and amongst 
the first came Mrs. Colonel Hutchison, who will 
never be forgotten at St. Margaret's, of which she 
was a constant and true friend. Bishop Car- 
ruthers called on the day after their arrival, with 
the Rev. Stephen Keenan and the Rev. M. Grif- 
fin ; Mr. Menzies and his cousin Miss Maxwell, 
Lady Gordon, Colonel O'Reilly, Colonel and Mrs. 
Macdonell were early visitors, and they all re- 
mained staunch friends of the Community as long 
as they lived. 

The few months spent by the Sisters at Argyle 
Park were not idle ones, for many necessary pre- 


liminaries had to be seen to before going into the 
convent. Household Hnen was prepared, and the 
costume of the Sisters remodelled; Mr. Gillis did 
not think the cap worn at Chavagnes sufficiently- 
distinguished from the ordinary secular dress, and 
he wished this first Community in Scotland to 
wear a dress more strictly conventual. Patterns 
were accordingly procured by Lady Wellesley 
from several convents in England and Ireland, and 
at length the present coif and veil were approved 
of as the costume of the religious of St. Mar- 
garet's. It was hoped that the convent would be 
ready for occupation before Christmas, but the in- 
clemency of the weather had retarded the progress 
of the workmen, and it was not until St. Stephen's 
Day, December 26, 1834, that the Community 
took possession of its long-desired convent-home. 
Mother St. Hilaire and Sister Agnes Xavier 
were the first to enter it ; the others followed in 
the course of the day, their number being in- 
creased by the addition of their first postulant, 
Miss Witham of Lartlngton. The house presented 
a bare appearance at first ; but, thanks to the 
generous donations of kind friends, it did not re- 
main long empty. The most necessary articles 
were quickly provided, and after two days' hard 
work, cheerfully accomplished, there was an ora- 
tory ready for the celebration of the Holy Mass. 


On the Feast of Holy Innocents, which was a 
Sunday that year, Bishop Carruthers said the first 
Mass, in the apartment, which served afterwards 
as the pupils' drawing class-room. Many friends 
of the Community assisted at this Mass, rejoicing 
together, and uniting in thanksgiving to God for 
the consolation He gave them In this event. 
After Mass the guests sat down with the bishop 
and priests to an elegant dtjeuner, provided by the 
orders of good old Mr. Menzies. No time was 
lost by Mr. Gillis and the religious in completing 
all the arrangements. The various offices were 
filled ; Mother St. Hllaire was nominated superior, 
and Sister St. John Chrysostom first mistress of 
the boarding-school. The regular exercises of 
the religious life began to be followed out, and 
Scotland possessed once more the blessing of a 
monastic institution, from whose humble walls a 
constant service of prayer and praise ascended to 
the throne of the Most Hieh. 

( 35 ) 



The Community, destined by Divine Providence 
to be the first In the field in this country, does not 
belong to the old Order of Ursulines, as many 
erroneously imagine, but to a Congregation founded 
in France immediately after the Revolution, and 
adapted to the difficulties of the times. 

The nuns belonging to a religious Order are 
generally confined within the precincts of their own 
establishment, and are said to be cloistered. There 
they devote their lives to the sanctifying of their 
own souls, spend much of their time in prayer and 
in praising God, and for the rest, usually practise 
some kind of manual work, or teach girls, who live 
as boarders within the cloister. This was the 
only kind of nuns known for many years ; but as 
time goes on, and outward circumstances change, 
the Church finds that she, too, has new wants, 
and it is beautiful to see what variety is compatible 
with her immutability; she has always found re- 
ligious Orders ready to assist In the necessities of 
the time, and adapt themselves to its circumstances. 


A glance at the history of the Church, and at the 
origin of the mihtary Orders, the Orders for the 
redemption of captives, the preaching and teach- 
ing Orders, will testify the truth of this remark. 
To meet the various wants that occur as time 
goes on, religious bodies uniting contemplation 
with active duties have been introduced, and 
to these we give the name of Congregations. The 
members of every religious congregation are bound 
to devote a considerable part of their time to the 
direct worship and praise of God, so as to fulfil 
a duty binding upon every rational creature, a 
duty which many neglect whilst engaged in the 
turmoil of worldly pursuits. 

The Congregation of the Ursulines of Jesus, 
which Mr. Gillis chose as the one most likely 
to suit the requirements of this country, was 
founded in 1802 by a holy priest of Lugon, the 
Venerable Louis Marie Baudouln. The rule is 
that of St. Augustine, with the constitutions of 
St. Ignatius. All the establishments of this Con- 
gregation in France, as well as two in South 
Wales and one in Spain, are subject to the 
Bishop of Lugon and the superiors at Chavagnes ; 
but the house in Edinburgh is independent of 
the French superiors. The Institute is devoted 
to teaching, first, young ladies of the upper 
and middle classes, then the poor, and lastly, 


women of every condition, who come to be 
instructed in the houses connected with the In- 
stitute. Ladies' retreats are also given at stated 
times, in the houses of the Order, and individual 
ladies may generally find in them accommodation 
and every facility for making spiritual retreats at 
any time. The Sisters visit the sick in their 
homes, and carry consolation as well as corporal 
relief to the poor and suffering. The Sisters at 
St. Joseph's Convent, Perth (a filiation from St. 
Margaret's), regularly visit a large public prison, 
Perth Penitentiary, to give instruction to the 
Catholic female prisoners detained there. The 
name of *' Ursulines," or more correctly, '' Ursu- 
lines of Jesus," was attached to this Congregation 
by the following circumstance. When Monsieur 
I'Abbe Baudouin returned from exile after the 
reign of terror, he gathered together a few faith- 
ful and zealous ladies, some of whom had been 
trained to the religious life in convents before the 
Revolution ; his object being to collect together and 
instruct in religion the young girls of all classes 
who had no means of learning the science of 
salvation ; and as no religious Order was sanc- 
tioned by the French Government of those days, 
except that of the Ursulines, this Congregation 
applied for the official approbation under the 
name of " Ursulines of Jesus." In France, where 


the houses of this Order are very numerous, the 
nuns are usually called '' Dames de Chavagnes," 
from the name of the town in which the Mother 
House is situated ; they are also occasionally 
spoken of as Nuns of the Incarnation, because 
their chief object is to imitate the Incarnate Word 
of God, "poor, chaste, obedient and teaching." 

At St. Margaret's Convent, arrangements had 
been made for the reception of young lady 
boarders, whose education should be the prin- 
cipal work of the Sisters ; but it was deemed 
desirable to undertake some more ostensible work 
of charity, in the midst of the city, and there the 
field provided ample scope for such a purpose. 
This was also the most likely means of bringing 
down the blessing of God upon the whole under- 
taking : for has He not promised to reward even 
a cup of cold water given in His name ? 

As a beginning to this latter enterprise, a small 
house was rented in Reld's Court, and Mother 
St. Paula, Sister St. Damian, and Sister Margaret 
Teresa formed a little Community there, where 
they were known as *' Sisters of Charity." When 
it was agreed to give them charge of the Catholic 
poor schools, the nuns took a larger house, which 
Mr. Gillis also managed to buy for the purpose. 
This was '* Milton House," the property of a 
Lord of Session of that name, and in it the 


Sisters began their labours in May 1835. They 
likewise took charge of a small dispensary, and 
distributed medicines to the poor gratis^ while 
Dr. Strain, brother to the late Archbishop, kindly 
gave the benefit of his medical skill to the poor 

This establishment was mainly supported by 
subscriptions, and the Sisters were enabled by the 
same means to distribute bread, potatoes, &c., three 
times a week. Their time was fully occupied ; for, 
in addition to all this, the sick poor were visited 
in their own homes, and a small number of orphans 
were received Into the house. The day-school was 
well attended, and in course of time the Sisters 
opened a school for day-boarders of the middle 

The small number of priests In Edinburgh ren- 
dered it impossible to appoint a chaplain to the 
establishment, and the Sisters were under the 
necessity of attending the public services In St. 
Mary's Church, Broughton Street. Thither they 
conducted their pupils, and on Sunday evenings 
Mr. Glllis used to give them instructions in the 
cloister chapel adjoining the church. Many persons 
of the congregation resorted to these Instructions, in 
order to benefit by his words ; even when the in- 
structions were given in Milton House, as happened 
occasionally, they were always numerously attended. 


But let US return to St. Margaret's, where we left 
the Sisters organising their work and the boarding- 
school. The first pupil who presented herself was 
Miss Helen Grant, afterwards mainly instrumental 
in founding St. Catherine's Convent of Mercy, 
Edinburgh ; she was soon joined by Miss Dorothy 
Maxwell, Miss Agnes Kirsopp, Miss Flora Grant, 
Miss Jane Grant, and others. Several postulants 
were also received during the early part of the 
year 1835. Miss Harriet M'Nab and Miss Eliza- 
beth Martin, choir Sisters ; Hannah Edgar and 
Helen Ingram, lay Sisters. 

( 41 ) 


SERMON. 1835. 

In 1835 the Feast of St. Margaret was kept on 
the 1 6th of June ; the chapel was finished, and the 
opening of it was to be celebrated at the same time 
as the reception of the postulants. A most impres- 
sive service was arranged, and successfully carried 
out, and many were moved to tears at the sight of 
the ceremonial, now revived after so many years of 
oblivion in Scotland. 

An impartial and very detailed description of the 
ceremony was written by a Protestant eye-witness, 
and published in the Edinburgh Observer of June 
19' 1S35. It would be a pity to alter or curtail 
this account, and therefore we quote it in full, with 
the beautiful discourse pronounced by Dr. Murdoch 
on the occasion. 

"The times have changed — some may perhaps think 
that they are out of joint — when in Presbyterian Scot- 
land, from whose soil the fury of the Reformation had 
swept away every monastic and conventual establish- 
ment, leaving scarcely one stone upon another of the 


edifices, which Catholic piety had reared as retreats from 
the cares and concerns of the world, one of these pro- 
scribed institutions has at length, at the distance of three 
centuries, ventured to rear its head, in all the security- 
afforded by the tolerant spirit of a more enlightened and 
beneficent age. This event, which will no doubt be 
viewed with very opposite feelings and sentiments, was, 
on Tuesday last, signalised by the solemn dedication of 
St. Margaret's, where, in its beautiful Saxon chapel, the 
chef d'oeuvre of Gillespie Graham, was at the same time 
performed the interesting and affecting ceremony of ad- 
mitting three young persons, who then entered their 
noviciate into the Community of the Sisters of Charity. 
The company present was not numerous but select, and 
the scene, which was singularly touching throughout, 
appeared to make the deepest impression upon all who 
witnessed it. Many were affected even to tears, and 
none, we will venture to say, remained insensible to the 
interest created partly by the ceremonial itself, but still 
more by the spectacle of young persons, in the flower of 
their age, voluntarily renouncing the world, and dedi- 
cating, not the dregs or lees of an exhausted and weary 
existence, but the first fruits of their years to the service 
of their God. The Roman Catholic ritual, generally 
considered, is gorgeous and imposing ; but of all the 
ceremonies of the Catholic Church, there is none, per- 
haps, so simple, so beautiful, so expressive, and, at the 
same time, so affecting, as that which, after the lapse of 
three hundred years, was, on Tuesday last, performed 
in the Chapel of St. Margaret's. It seemed to us, we 
confess, the very poetry of religion ; a visible represen- 
tation, if we may so express it, of the finest and the 
purest images; a living picture painted in all those divine 


colours which Holy Writ supplies for completing such a 
delineation. In the foreground were observed youth, and 
purity, and piety, devoutly kneeling, or lowly prostrate 
before the altar of sacrifice ; then appeared the willing 
victims, wearing the white emblems of innocence and 
truth, and crowned with garlands of flowers, betokening 
their espousal to the Great Head of the Church; and 
lastly, were beheld these youthful novices casting their 
crowns upon the altar — receiving the sacred badge of 
the Cross, with the other ensigns of their vocation as 
Sisters of Charity — renouncing the world with all its 
ties, whether of blood or of affection — and dedicating 
themselves to the service of religion, and the continual 
practice of that Divine virtue which forms the distin- 
guishing mark of genuine Christianity. The whole scene, 
indeed, spoke to the heart, and spoke not in vain ; the 
impression made by it was both deep and powerful ; the 
feelings were addressed in a manner which irresistibly 
called forth the sympathetic response of ' a few natural 
tears ; ' and even some who had supposed themselves 
armed in proof against the access of any such emotions, 
were subdued and melted under its softening influence. 
We abstain from touching upon points of polemical dis- 
putation ; we have no opinion to give on the long agitated 
question as to the nature and tendency of conventual 
institutions; our only object is to describe what we know, 
by visible signs, many felt on the occasion, and to state, 
as a fact, that the general effect produced by the cere- 
monial was, in the highest degree, softening and impres- 
sive. We may add, however, that the bitterest enemies 
of such establishments as St. Margaret's, have invariably 
made an exception in favour of the Sisters of Charity, 
whose services in the cause of suffering humanity have 


secured them the admiration of those who abhor their 
reh'gion, and who would willingly lend a helping hand 
to pull down that Church which considers them as 
amongst its purest and brightest ornaments. Of these 
heroic women, indeed, whom neither pestilence nor death 
can discourage or repel in prosecuting their labours of 
charity, it may with truth be said, in the eloquent lan- 
guage which Burke applied to Howard, that they make 
it their business ' To dive into the depths of dungeons ; 
to plunge into the infection of hospitals ; to survey the 
mansions of sorrow and pain ; to take the gauge and 
dimensions of misery, depression, and contempt ; to re- 
member the forgotten; to attend to the neglected; to 
visit the forsaken ; ' and not merely to compare or col- 
late distresses, but, as far as lies in their power, to relieve 
them. 'Their plan, in short, is original; and it is as 
full of genius as it is of humanity.' 

" When the procession entered the chapel, and the 
bishops reached the altar, the choir performed the As- 
perges^ during which the Right Reverend Dr. Carruthers 
sprinkled the chapel with holy water; and this, upon 
the return of his lordship to the foot of the altar, was 
followed by Sanctis Deus. Mr. Gillis then gave out 
the Veni Creator, which was performed thrice, with a 
soft voluntary, until the bishop had done reading the 
prayers at the side of the altar. Next came the sermon, 
which was delivered by Bishop Murdoch of Glasgow, 
from the front of the altar. In eloquent and powerful 
language, the right reverend preacher alluded to the 
havoc which the Reformation had made in the Catholic 
institutions of this country, and also to the fiery bigotry 
which, even in recent times, had consigned to the flames 
the only Catholic chapel in Edinburgh; and whilst he 



contrasted the persecuting fury of former times with 
the enlightened and tolerant spirit of the present, he at 
the same time earnestly disclaimed alluding to these 
things as matters of reproach to Protestants. He ad- 
verted to them merely as facts in history, and proceeded 
to describe, in animated terms, the progress which, in 
spite of all obstacles and difficulties, the Catholic religion 
was making in every part of the country, rearing up 
temples which adorned the spots where they were placed, 
and giving promise of that ultimate triumph which, he 
felt assured, their religion would one day obtain. With 
respect to the Institution of St. Margaret's, he said he 
was willing that it should be tried by its merits and 
judged by its fruits. He then shortly described the ob- 
jects for which it was founded, more especially as a 
place of education for Catholic females, and concluded 
a powerful discourse with a most impressive prayer for 
the prosperity of the Institution. 

"The sermon was followed by the ceremony of the 
Clothing, which we have already attempted to describe 
though in very feeble and inadequate terms. Those who 
witnessed it were alone in a condition to judge of the 
impression which it produced ; but to convey any just 
conception of it in words would be entirely hopeless. 
The novices kneeling or prostrate before the altar, — 
the deep interest with which they were regarded, — the 
solemnity of the service, heightened by an imposing 
array of clergy robed in splendid vestments, — the 
beautiful, expressive, and highly poetical character of 
the ceremonial, which was not lessened by its novelty, 
— the effect produced by Bishop Murdoch's excellent 
discourse, — and the air of tranquil, settled, yet almost 
sublime devotion in the countenances of those young 


persons who were preparing to set the seal to their own 
separation from the world, — formed altogether a scene 
which the imagination may picture to itself, but which 
our feeble pen would in vain essay to describe. The 
novices were presented to the bishop by the Reverend 
Mr. Gillis, who humbly requested that his Lordship 
would allow them to enter the religious state. * Do you 
know them to be worthy of that holy state?' inquired 
his Lordship. ' As far as human frailty will allow me 
to judge, I believe them to be so, and present them 
as such to your Lordship,' replied Mr. Gillis. A series 
of questions were then put by Mr. GilHs to one of the 
novices, by whom they were answered with a dignified 
distinctness, blended with that grace and delicacy which 
form the peculiar ornaments of the female sex. These 
questions, about which the public may not unreason- 
ably feel some curiosity, were, as nearly as we could 
collect, substantially as follow : — 

"'What object have you in view in wishing to be 
received as a member of this religious society.? To 
take upon myself the obligations, and to share in the 
advantages of a religious life. — Will you endeavour to 
walk in a manner worthy of your vocation > It is my 
desire to do so. — Is it of j/o?ir own free will that you 
present yourself here, or have you been in any way 
forced to this step ? I come of my own accord, without 
either inducement or compulsion. — Are you disposed to 
renounce the things of the world according to the pre- 
cept of Jesus Christ? With the help of God, I do 
renounce them.— Will you persevere in this resolution, 
and promise to obey the rule of St. Augustin, of which 
the Church has approved.? With the help of God, I 
do promise to obey it.— Are your ecclesiastical supe- 


riors to understand that you are willing to make choice 
of a single life, and that you will endeavour to sanc- 
tify it by the daily practice of temperance and piety ? 
Yes ; I make that choice of my own free will, and with 
God's assistance I hope to persevere in the practice of 
those virtues which are most hkely to render it accept- 
able in His divine sight. — Are you ready, then, to 
promise obedience to the superiors of this religious 
institution ? I am ; and my most earnest desire is to 
make that promise irrevocable. — Are you prepared to 
encounter the hardships of a religious life, to submit to 
the contingencies of voluntary poverty, and to suffer 
persecution and contempt for the kingdom of heaven .-* 
With God's assistance, I will rejoice with the apostle at 
being accounted worthy to suffer reproach for the name 
of Jesus. — Are you willing, then, to renounce all things 
for the sake of Christ, to bid adieu to your father and 
mother, to your brothers and sisters, to your relations 
and friends, to all the pursuits, and vanities, and illu- 
sions of the world } I am, with God's help ; my most 
earnest desire is to live henceforward for God alone. 
— Are you ready even to renounce yourself, to take up 
your cross, and to follow Jesus Christ in the path of 
His divine counsels ? I am, with the assistance of His 
grace.' — All the novices were then asked, ' But are you, 
my dear children, in the same dispositions ; do you con- 
cur in the sentiments that have here been expressed, 
and do you ratify the promises that have just now 
been made .? We do, to their fullest extent, and with 
all our hearts.' On receiving the cross they were ad- 
dressed in these words : — * Receive the sign of your 
redemption, wear it as a seal upon your heart, and 
remember that your love for Christ should be as strong 


as death.' Mr. Gillis then said, 'Think seriously, my 
dear children in Jesus Christ, of the obligations which 
you are now so anxious to take upon yourselves; the 
angels who rejoice in heaven over the perseverance of 
the just, as well as over the conversion of the sinner, 
are witnesses to your sincerity, and you will have to 
answer at the day of judgment for the step you are 
now preparing to take.' 

" They then received the other emblems of their 
vocation, and on their heads, covered with white veils, 
were placed crowns of flowers, which they afterwards 
deposited on the altar, in token of their complete re- 
nunciation of all the ornaments, as well as the pursuits 
of life, and their exclusive dedication to the service of 
religion. Mass followed with some variations suited to 
the occasion ; and at the offertory, the novices, with lit 
tapers in their hands, approached the altar, in front of 
which sat Bishop Carruthers, to whom they were for- 
mally presented. Mass then proceeded as usual, and 
when the officiating priest, Mr. Gillis, commenced the 
last gospel, the choir performed the Magnificat and 
Finale, The whole of this imposing ceremonial, so new 
in Scotland, occupied nearly three hours; but it was 
regarded throughout with undiminished interest and at- 
tention by all present, amongst whom were a considerable 
number of Protestants. 

"After the service, several distinguished persons who 
had been attracted thither, examined the interior arrange- 
ments and accommodations provided in St. Margaret's, 
with a view to its principal destination as a place of 
education for young ladies of the Cacholic persuasion, 
and with all of which they expressed themselves highly 
gratified. These, indeed, are of the most complete and 


admirable description, with a view to health and com- 
fort, as well as to education. The situation is one of 
the finest which could have been selected, in one of the 
most beautiful spots in the vicinity of Edinburgh ; the 
grounds are extensive and tastefully laid out ; and the 
retired nature of the place secures it a complete im- 
munity from all those spectacles which, in spite of 
every precaution, are obtruded on the sight of young 
females in a great city; whilst the means which have 
been provided for the cultivation of the mind, the for- 
mation of the taste and manners, and the education of 
the heart, which is by far the most important of all, 
are such as can scarcely fail to recommend St. Mar- 
garet's, in a pre-eminent degree, to Catholic parents in 
all parts of the country. 

" To prevent misconception, it is proper to add, that 
although all the ladies connected with St. Margaret's 
belong to the same Order, and are under the same 
superior, those who act as Sisters of Charity inhabit a 
different residence, and form a separate establishment 
from that of St. Margaret's, which, as already men- 
tioned, is exclusively a seminary of education for the 
female branches of respectable Catholic families." 


Sermon preached at the opening of the Chapel of St. Mar- 
garet's Convent, by tJie RiGHT REVEREND James 
Murdoch, Coadjutor of the Western District of 

"The earth, Christians, is filled with the presence of 
God : immensity is one of His essential attributes. " In 
Him," says the Apostle, " we live, and move, and have 
our being" (Acts xvii. 28). Wherever we are, we are 
surrounded by the Deity. As the air encompasses the 
bird in its flight, as the water encircles the fish while 
it swims through the ocean, so does the presence of the 
Godhead environ us at all times, and in all places. 
Whithersoever we go, our God is with us. We cannot 
escape from His hand nor from His eye. All this is 
beautifully expressed by the Royal Prophet in one of 
his Psalms: "Whither," says he, "shall I go from Thy 
Spirit } or whither shall I flee from Thy face ? If I 
ascend into heaven Thou art there, if I descend into 
hell Thou art present; if I take my wings early in the 
morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, 
even there also Thy hand shall lead me, and Thy right 
hand shall hold me. And I said, perhaps darkness shall 
cover me, and night shall be my light in my pleasures ; 
but darkness shall not be dark to Thee, and night shall 
be light as the day. The darkness and the light thereof 
are alike to Thee" (Ps. cxxxviii. 7-12). Thus the uni- 
verse ought to be looked upon as one great temple of 
the Almighty. At all times, during the day and during 
the night, in light and in darkness, in the fields and 
in our dwelling-houses, at home and abroad, asleep and 
awake, we ought to consider ourselves in the immediate 


presence of our Creator; we ought to conduct ourselves 
as under this conviction ; our appearance should be suit- 
able to the great Being in whose company we are; our 
thoughts should be pure in the sight of Him who is 
holiness itself; our words should be fitted for the hearing 
of the God of sanctity ; our actions should each one 
declare that the Lord is nigh to us; and our whole 
deportment proclaim that we are, and look upon our- 
selves, as the children of the Most High. Such, my 
brethren, should be our feelings, and such our conduct, in 
all circumstances. With what sentiments, then, of respect 
and awe should we enter those places that are imme- 
diately set apart and consecrated to the worship of the 
Almighty ! Though by His immensity He is everywhere, 
though He fills the vast expanse between earth and heaven, 
though His essence cannot be confined within the precincts 
of material walls, yet we find that from the beginning He 
has chosen to dwell, as it were, and to manifest Him- 
self particularly in certain places. The greater part of the 
earth which we inhabit is contaminated with vice ; crime 
stalks wide over the face of the globe, and in a manner 
pollutes the air we breathe. Hence has it been deemed 
proper to select certain spots, and to consecrate them to 
the special worship of the Deity, as if to express our sense 
of His immaculate holiness, and our desire to escape from 
the contagion of the world. Solomon was the first to 
build a house to the true God ; and the Almighty, on the 
day of its solemn dedication to His service, showed, in the 
presence of all the people, how agreeable to Him was the 
erection of the Temple. When all the holocausts were 
ready, He sent down fire from heaven to consume them, 
and at the same time filled the house with a cloud of His 
glory. Afterwards, appearing to Solomon, He said, 'I 


have sanctified this house which thou hast built, to put 
my name there for ever, and my eyes and my heart shall 
be there always' (2 Chron. vii. 16). Justly, then, did the 
Israelites respect the Temple of Solomon ; justly did they 
venerate its sanctity; justly did they flock to it from all 
quarters, to present their petitions to the Most High, to 
tender their homages, to offer their gifts and sacrifices ; 
justly did they, when removed far from it, in their cap- 
tivity, open their windows, turn their faces towards Jeru- 
salem, where it stood, and, at the risk of their lives, 
worship their God, as we find recorded of the Prophet 
Daniel. Yet the Temple of Jerusalem was only a type, 
a figure of our Christian Temples. It only contained 
the Ark of the Covenant, — our Churches contain the 
Tabernacle in which the Son of God resides truly and 
really in the adorable sacrament of the Eucharist. In 
the Temple of Solomon was offered to God only the 
blood of animal victims; on our altars is offered up to 
heaven, in a mystical manner, the blood of Him who 
died upon the cross for the redemption of the world. In 
the Jewish Temple was expounded the law of Moses, — 
in our Churches are explained and inculcated the laws 
and maxims taught and promulgated by the Eternal Son 
of God Himself. What reverence, then, ought we to mani- 
fest in the House of God ! With what respect ought we 
to cross its threshold ! With what feelings of awe ought 
we to come into the presence of the Great Creator of the 
Universe! With what humility ought we, like the pub- 
lican, far from the altar, to bow ourselves down, to strike 
our breasts, and acknowledge our unworthiness ! With 
what purity ought we to enter the sanctuary of Him who 
cannot endure the sight of iniquity ! In the Temple of 
Jerusalem the people were, by various barriers, kept back 



from the more holy places ; the priests were obliged to go 
through several purifications before they were allowed to 
advance to the altar, to discharge their functions ; the 
Holy of Holies, where God had chosen His special resi- 
dence, was entirely removed from the view of the crowd, 
— the High Priest alone was permitted to set his foot there, 
and he only once in the course of every year, and that 
after the most solemn oblations. It was, my brethren, 
for our instruction, that all these ordinances were made in 
the old law; it was for our instruction that the Almighty 
commanded such respect to be shown to the Temple of 
Jerusalem. Far more venerable and holy are our Temples, 
Christians ! They are indeed the houses of God ; for in 
them the Divinity may be said truly to dwell. They may, 
with truth, be styled not merely the gates of heaven, but 
the new heavens upon earth foretold by the Prophet. 
Here are not merely the Tables of the Law enclosed in the 
Ark, but the great Author of the Law, Jesus Christ. Here 
is not merely the manna that fell from the clouds, and fed 
the Israelites in the desert, but the true bread that came 
down from heaven, — the body and blood of Jesus Christ, 
that nourish our souls to life eternal. Here is not merely 
the rod of Aaron, the emblem of his priesthood, but the 
' Priest for ever, according to the order of Melchisedec ' 
(Heb. v. 6). Here is offered not the flesh of oxen, and of 
other animals, but the Lamb without spot that taketh 
away the sins of the world. Here is daily erected, as it 
were, on the altar, the Cross of Calvary, and the Eternal 
Son of God presented to His Heavenly Father under the 
form of death, for our sakes. Here is daily immolated, in 
a mystical manner, Him at whose expiry on the tree of 
ignominy the sun withdrew his light, the rocks were rent 
asunder, and the earth was shaken to its centre. Here 


lies daily on the altar He whom in heaven millions of 
angels and archangels adore, — He before whom the 
cherubim and seraphim cover their faces with their wings, 
through awe of his Divine Majesty, — He in whose presence 
the powers of heaven tremble. Here may every penitent 
sinner approach to the foot of the altar, to be sprinkled, 
not with the blood of animals, but with that of the Son of 
God made man. Here is our crucified Saviour to be daily 
found a victim of propitiation for every repenting criminal. 
Here does the God of goodness daily place His throne, 
and sit ready to receive and grant the petitions of His 
creatures. Here does He scatter abroad the riches of His 
bounties. Here, in fine, does He '' delight," as He Him- 
self says, " to dwell in the midst of the children of men " 
(Prov. viii. 31). The faithful are no longer, like the Jews, 
kept at a distance from the altar ; Jesus Christ has broken 
down every wall of separation, and invites all to come to 
Him and to be refreshed. Every Christian is now per- 
mitted to draw nigh to the Holy of Holies, and to take 
his stand among the angels and archangels at the foot of 
the throne of the Most High God. 

" Cold and heartless, my beloved brethren, nay, utterly 
undeserving the name of Catholic, is he who can witness 
the dedication of a church to the God of Heaven, without 
feelings of joy and exultation. Feebly does the fire of 
zeal or love for the heavenly religion of Jesus Christ burn 
in the bosom of him who does not rejoice to hear of its 
advancement in distant countries ; but no spark slumbers 
in the breast of the man who is not gladdened by the 
sight of its progress in the land which gave him birth. 
Boundless, then, my Catholic brethren, ought to be our 
gratitude to the God of goodness for His bounties 
towards us. Since the period of the Reformation there 


was a time when but one solitary Catholic priest wandered 
over the length and breadth of this kingdom, and he 
skulklncf in discruise, as if he had been some wretch who 
had imbrued his hands in the blood of a fellow-creature. 
Now, the ministers of your holy religion are to be found 
in town and country, and proceed to the discharge of 
their sacred functions without the fear of molestation. 
There was a time when your forefathers might be truly 
said to be without temple, without altar, and thought 
themselves happy when they could assist at the adorable 
mysteries, in some secluded spot or unsuspected barn ; — 
two-thirds of a century have scarce yet elapsed since the 
only Catholic chapel in this city was burnt to ashes. 
Now, your places of worship adorn the cities of the land, 
and are widely scattered over the surface of the country, — 
now, you walk with safety to the house of prayer, 
and at noon-day worship the Almighty with almost all 
the splendour and solemnity of Catholic times and 
Catholic countries. Scarce now does the year roll over 
in which several edifices are not reared and dedicated to 
the service of God, according to the form and faith of the 
Catholic Church. Once more, then, I proclaim it, my 
Christian brethren, your bosoms ought to be filled with 
the warmest gratitude for the many mercies that have 
been bestowed upon you. 

" But there is something in this day's solemnity that 
ought to make your hearts superabound with joy. The 
Temple which to-day is consecrated to the God of 
Heaven, and in which, for the first time, is offered up 
to the Eternal Father the dread sacrifice of the altar, 
has an association which renders the day of its open- 
ing a day of special jubilation. You sit assembled, 
my friends, in the first Conventual Chapel that has dared 


to raise its head in this kingdom since the days of the 
Reformation. Once Scotland vied with other countries 
in the number of her monastic establishments, where 
learning- was cultivated, where piety flourished, where 
the voice of Divine praise night and day was seldom 
hushed, where the virgin gave her undivided heart and 
chaste affections to her heavenly Spouse ; where the 
mortified follower of Jesus Christ crucified never eased 
his shoulders of the burden of the cross ; where the 
ardent lover of God strove daily to add new fuel to 
the fire of Divine charity in his bosom ; where the world 
was despised ; where honours, riches, dignities, and 
beauty were looked upon as empty trifles; where the 
path of self-denial was unceasingly trodden ; where the 
whole Community so often fell prostrate before the throne 
of God, and sent up to heaven a loud cry for mercy on 
a sinful world ; where also the hungry were fed, [the 
naked were clothed, the houseless were sheltered, the 
orphan was provided for, the widow was solaced ; where, 
in fine, the stranger always found an open door, and 
where hospitality was ever ready to welcome and re- 
fresh the traveller. Yes, Scotland was once happy in 
her numerous monasteries and convents, from whence 
issued a sweet odour of virtue that attracted multitudes 
around to the faithful service of the world's Creator ; but 
a misguided zeal declared a war of extermination against 
them. Now, history can scarce show the spots where 
many of them, stood, while the majestic but mouldering 
ruins of others, weeping, as it were, still point to heaven, 
and bid us think of the many faithful souls which they 
sent up to the mansions of everlasting bliss. 

" If I have alluded to their destruction, believe me, 
my friends, I have done so not in anger, nor in re- 


proach. Ah ! no ; there is not room in my breast for 
one drop of bitterness, on this day when everything 
around me carries me, in imagination, back to the times 
of St. Margaret, the glorious patroness of this temple 
and its adjoining convent. Often have I adored in 
silence the judgments of God, and sorrowed at the 
causes that brought about the expulsion of my religion 
and its institutions from the land of my birth. But 
away, sorrow, on this joyful occasion, when opens a 
new era in the history of the Scottish Mission ; when 
I am about to behold a spectacle for three hundred 
years unwitnessed amongst us ; when, at the foot of 
the altar, three tender females are on the point of re- 
nouncing all to follow Christ, of putting on the humble 
habit of spouses of Jesus, and of bidding farewell to this 
world and all its delusive charms and false allurements. 
Thrice happy daughters ! who have been chosen by 
the Almighty to set to your countrywomen the noble 
example of leaving father and mother, brothers and 
sisters, in order wholly to consecrate yourselves to His 
love I Once again, away from my breast every feeling 
but that of joy on this day, when, in the name of the 
Catholics of Scotland, I hail the appearance among us 
of these venerable Sisters, who have courageously and 
cheerfully abandoned their native land, and come to 
spend their days in a country where they knew the name 
of a nun has hitherto been held in scorn and contempt. 
But fear not, little flock, let me address you in the 
words of Jesus Christ to His apostles; fear not, for you 
are under the protection of your Divine Spouse. As it 
pleased the Almighty to give the apostles a kingdom 
here, in the conversion of the world to Christianity, and 
a kingdom of bliss hereafter, as the reward of their 


labours ; so, I trust, it will please your Eternal Father to 
give to you, in this world, a rich harvest of happy fruits 
in the good you are about to accomplish, and in a 
future world crowns of never-fading glory, in recom- 
pense of your charity. If at present you are only the 
grain of mustard seed, be comforted when you reflect, 
that that small grain grew into a goodly tree, so that 
the birds of the air came and dwelt in the branches 
thereof. Yes, my fellow-Catholics, if to-day St. Mar- 
garet's stands alone, the time may not be far distant 
when the increase of similar institutions may be pro- 
claimed with as much joy as I at this moment ex- 
perience in alluding to its solitary existence. Great, I 
am sure, must have been the difficulties encountered in 
the completion of this establishment ; the heavier, then, 
is the debt of gratitude which the Catholics of Scotland 
owe to those who, trusting in God, commenced, and 
relying on His assistance, and disheartened by no ob- 
stacle, have finished the work. I stand not, however, 
here the panegyrist of these latter persons. No; I leave 
future generations to extol and bless them, and the God 
of Heaven to reward them. Neither does time permit 
me to expatiate on the happy fruits which this institution 
is calcuated to produce, and I make no doubt will pro- 
duce amongst us. If here present there be any person 
who expects me to enter on a defence of the monastic 
Orders of the Catholic Church, to such a person I have 
only to say, that addressing myself to them who call them- 
selves the followers of Jesus Christ, I should conceive that 
I grossly insulted them, if I deemed it necessary to offer 
to them any apology for the profession and practice of 
Christianity in its perfection, — for the practice of the 
most holy and sublime maxims and virtues taught by 



the religion of Jesus, — for the practice of humility and 
self-denial inculcated almost in every page of the Gospel, 
— for the practice of poverty of spirit and estrangement 
from everything earthly, so strongly recommended in 
the Divine oracles, — for the practice of angelic chastity, 
which in some degree raises mortals above the sphere 
of their nature, and places them on a level with the 
celestial spirits — for the practice, in fine, of Divine charity, 
in both its branches, which makes men in some measure 
partakers of the Divinity. What more excellent objects, 
I would ask, can be considered, than those of this estab- 
lishment ? Its inmates renounce all to follow Christ, 
and solemnly and irrevocably consecrate themselves to 
the service of their God. Here, in their retirement, to 
act the part of Moses praying on the mount, with up- 
lifted hands, during the conflict of the Israelites with 
their enemies, — to present themselves before the throne 
of the Almighty God, and to send up to Him their 
most fervent supplications for aid to their fellow-mortals 
living in the midst of a corrupted world, and unceasingly 
exposed to violent attacks from cunning, powerful, and 
indefatigable foes, is to form one of their frequent occu- 
pations. Some of them are to dedicate themselves 
to the instruction of youth ; of these it will be the task 
to plant deeply in the breasts of young females the 
seeds of early, unaffected, and enlightened piety ; to im- 
part to them an education grounded upon and blended 
with religion; to adorn their minds, to refine their man- 
ners, and thus to send them back to the world, orna- 
ments to their sex, an honour to their religion, and 
models of virtue to their neighbours. Others of these 
devout Sisters are destined to devote themselves to the 
exercise of the most heroic charity ; to fly at all hours 


to the abode of distress, to take their station beside 
the bed of sickness, to administer to the temporal and 
spiritual wants of the dying, to solace and support them 
under their pains, to dispose them for a worthy recep- 
tion of the last sacraments, to inspire them with con- 
fidence in the God of mercy, to fill their hearts with 
sentiments of the deepest sorrow for past guilt, and, 
angels of consolation, to stand by till they deliver the 
departing Christian soul into the hands of celestial spirits, 
to be conducted by them, through the perils of death, 
to the presence of its God. These courageous Sisters, 
neither the squalid appearance of the most wretched 
hovel, nor the loathsomeness of disease, nor the fear of 
infection, nor the dread of death, shall drive from the 
field of their operations, nor deter from their labours of 
love. But I, must content myself with this brief allu- 
sion to the ends which the Community of St. Margaret's 
has in view. Their utility, their excellence, are surely 
unquestionable. I am not afraid, then, to rest the fate 
of the Institution upon its own merits. Nay, I enter- 
tain not a doubt, that the prejudices at present existing 
against such establishments in the minds of many of 
our Protestant brethren, will gradually die away, and in 
numerous instances give place even to admiration. But 
this, my beloved brethren, must be the work of Him 
in whose omnipotent hands are the minds and hearts of 
men, and to whom alone it belongs to prosper the efforts 
of His servants. 

" Unto Thee, then, do we appeal, O God of majesty ! 
Sanctify this house which we consecrate to Thy honour, 
as on the day of its dedication Thou didst fill the Temple 
of Jerusalem with a cloud of Thy glory. God of Charity, 
take this infant Community under Thy special protec- 


tlon ; guard it as the apple of Thine eye ; bless and 
prosper its operations of love ! God of Purity, lover of 
chastity, receive the hearts and affections of Thy three 
devout servants, who this day consecrate themselves to 
Thee as to their only Spouse ! God of Goodness, shower 
down Thy grace upon us all, enable us to pass through 
this world as travellers on our way to our true and 
everlasting home, — enable us ever to distinguish our- 
selves as Thy disciples by the badge of charity, that 
loving Thee, and loving one another in this world, we 
may be overwhelmed in the joys of love in the next ! " 

( 62 ) 


JAMES GILLIS. 1835-1837. 

With the solemn opening of the chapel, the con- 
vent may be considered fairly established. The 
Sisters had spent six busy months before this 
event receiving pupils into the boarding-school 
and postulants to the noviceship ; setting their 
house in order, and organising all their work. 
They had much to be thankful for in their inter- 
course with the outer world, for they were generally 
well received and respectfully treated by those 
with whom they had to deal. It is true the 
convent windows were broken more than once by 
those whose ignorance and bigotry could find no 
more dignified mode of expression, but better 
informed Protestants were indiornant at such out- 
rages, and publicly expressed their indignation by 
the pen of the late Dr. William Chambers, who 
was always an ardent admirer of Bishop Gillls. 
Those who appreciated the labours of the reli- 


glous were both generous and thoughtful in 
supplying many a useful article. The Countess 
de Senfft Pilsach, wife of the Austrian ambassador, 
sent a beautiful embroidered preaching stole ; 
Mrs. Gandolh gave a complete set of vestments ; 
Mr. Menzies presented another set ; and Mrs. 
Englefield, with many other things, presented a 
valuable collection of books for the convent 
library. Sir George Warrender, Bart., of Lochend, 
although a Protestant, was an early benefactor to 
the Community, for it was he who suggested the 
substitution of an open railing for the stone wall 
that separated his own grounds from the convent 
garden ; and he placed in it a door of communica- 
tion by which the Sisters and their pupils might 
have free access to the Warrender parks, for the 
purpose of air and recreation. 

On Friday the 6th January 1837, a magnificent 
silver lamp, intended for the service of the convent 
chapel, was formally presented to Mr. Gillis, in 
presence of Bishop Carruthers and a number of 
friends of the Institution, who had assembled for 
the occasion in the lar^e schoolroom of the con- 
vent. The lamp was executed from a design 
of Mr. Gillespie Graham, the architect of the 
convent, by Messrs. Cross & Carruthers of Elm 
Row ; and is considered by persons of good 
taste and iudcrment in such matters^_as unrivalled 

7(5/- <X.. 


by anything of the kind to be met with In this 

On the evening referred to, the schoolroom was 
tastefully decorated, and the lamp suspended amidst 
handsome drapery. The subscribers to the pre- 
sentation assembled, the Community and pupils 
being also present. Lieutenant-Colonel Macdonell, 
C.B., who had been unanimously requested to 
present the testimonial to the Rev. Mr. GIllIs, 
proceeded to fulfil this pleasing duty In an elo- 
quent speech, in which he set forth the services 
rendered to religion by Mr. Glllis, and the many 
ways In which he had won the esteem, admiration, 
and love of his flock. After referring to the 
sorrows through which the Church In Scotland 
passed, during the gloomy time of the so-called 
Reformation, the destruction of churches and reli- 
gious houses, and the consequent want of instruc- 
tion to the Ignorant and relief to the poor and 
needy, Colonel Macdonell proceeded to draw a 
happy augury for the future from the establish- 
ment of the convent, In which they were now met 
together, and which, he trusted, was the foundation- 
stone of many similar institutions which would ere 
long restore to Scotland her ancient faith, hope, 
and charity. Before concluding his address. Colonel 
Macdonell read the inscription on the lamp, which 
is as follows: — 


" This Lamp, 
intended to serve as a visible emblem of that Divine Light of 
Faith and Charity which has burned in the CathoHc Church 
from the beginning, and which will continue to diffuse its 
radiance with unquenchable brightness to the end, is presented 
to the Rev. James Gillis, Founder of St. Margaret's Convent, 
Edinburgh, by a number of his personal friends, in testimony 
of their respect for his character as a clergyman, their admiration 
of his talents and eloquence as a preacher, and their deep sense 
of that fervent and holy zeal with which he has laboured to 
promote the interests of true religion, to re-establish one of its 
beneficent institutions, and to extend the practical influence of 
that charity without which Christianity is but an empty name." 

Edinburgh, St. Margaret's Day, 
\othJune 1836. 

Mr. Gillis was deeply touched by this proof of 
regard and esteem, and feelingly expressed his 
gratitude to all concerned In the presentation of 
the lamp, not only for the costly gift, but for the 
kind sentiments of which Colonel Macdonell had 
been the interpreter. Referring to the inscription 
on the lamp, Mr. Gillis said : — '^ One complimen- 
tary expression, however, in that inscription, I 
must beg leave In a very great measure to de- 
cline. I am there called the Founder of St. Mar- 
garet's — Sir, that title belongs much more truly 
to one whose venerated head now lies mouldering 
in the grave ; to the zealous and disinterested pre- 
late who lately presided over this district. Bishop 
Pater son. Had it not been, sir, for the last words 


that he ever wrote in this world, penned, as it 
turned out, on the very eve of his death — I acknow- 
ledge It here — I would have shrunk from the diffi- 
culties which this establishment then presented to 
me. Since then, another fatherly hand has been 
stretched forth to support it, but for which any 
exertions of mine, however great, must have proved 
unavailing. That it may long continue to be up- 
lifted to Heaven in behalf of this establishment, 
and of us all, is, I am sure, sir, yours as well as 
my most earnest prayer." 

When Mr. Gillis had concluded his reply, Bishop 
Carruthers addressed the company, and then all 
present proceeded to the chapel, where solemn 
vespers were sung and benediction was given, the 
bishop being assisted by the Rev. Mr. Gillis and 
the Rev. Mr. Malcolm. 

The lamp, after the usual benediction, was sus- 
pended in the chapel and lighted for the first time, 
and there it still burns, to the glory of God and 
" Ob rei memoriam'^ 

Mrs. Colonel Hutchison will ever be remembered 
in the annals of St. Marg^aret's Convent as a most 
liberal and constant benefactress ; to her generosity 
and good taste the chapel owes the handsome 
carved oak screen which surrounds the choir, where 
a simple iron railing had originally been placed. 
Mrs. Hutchison loved to identify herself with every- 


thing pious and useful, and was always ready to 
come to the aid of the nuns, both at St. Margaret's 
and at Milton House. It was she who enriched 
the convent with the precious relics that now lie 
under the high altar, the body of St. Crescentia, 
Virgin and Martyr. 

In 1842 Mrs. Hutchison visited Rome, and was 
presented to Pope Gregory XVI. as ** a convert 
from Protestantism." His Holiness received her 
most graciously, and desired her to ask some favour 
which it might be in his power to grant; she at 
once asked for the relics of a saint as a gift for 
her eldest daughter. When she explained that her 
** eldest daughter " was the newly founded convent 
in Edinburgh, her request was readily granted, and 
the body of St. Crescentia, along with the neces- 
sary authentication, was confided to her care to be 
conveyed to Scotland. 

She returned home in company with the Right 
Rev. Dr. Ullathorne, then Vicar Apostolic of the 
Midland District in England, and now Bishop of 
Birmingham. The journey was not accomplished 
without many interesting adventures, and amongst 
others, the arrest of Mrs. Hutchison at Leghorn, 
where she was mistaken for a person of the same 
name who had assisted in the escape of Lavalette 
in 1 8 16. After reaching London Dr. Ullathorne 
drew up a statement of the case and presented it to 


Lord Aberdeen, by the hands of Lord Cunningham, 
Mrs. Hutchison's brother. Lord Aberdeen brought 
the affair under the notice of Prince Metternich, 
and In due course came an apology, with which 
the matter ended. 

One good result of this misadventure was, that 
the long list of "contraband individuals" kept on 
the frontier of the Lombard territory was cancelled ; 
and whereas, previous to this time, many English 
travellers had been stopped and turned back, an end 
was now put to this nuisance. The case of relics 
which the good lady guarded with jealous care, 
added greatly to her solicitude on this memorable 
journey ; but she contrived by many an artifice to 
conceal '* the box of bones" from those who would 
have treated It with contemptuous disrespect, and 
had great joy In presenting It to the Community as 
soon as she reached Edinburgh. The elegant shrine 
in which the relics now repose was designed by Mr. 
Pugin, and executed by Messrs. Bonnar & Carfrae, 
under the superintendence of Bishop Gillls. By 
special permission of the Holy Father, the feast of 
St. Crescentia Is kept on the loth October, and the 
relics are exposed during the octave. 

Of Mrs. Hutchison's journey home, Dr. Ulla- 
thorne wrote many years afterwards : — *' Mrs. 
Hutchison, however harassed, and though labour- 
ing under the difficulty of not knowing the Ian- 


guage, bore herself admirably through all her 
anxieties and fatigues. She went every morning 
to communion, and even though travelling early 
and late, she went invariably at whatever time we 
stopped before 12 o'clock, to receive the Blessed 
Sacrament at the nearest church. When, however, 
we reached London, her strength completely broke 
down, and she required some days to recover 

It was to be expected that many persons would 
feel curiosity to see the interior of the convent ; 
and with a view to dispelling prejudices and 
enlightening the minds of Protestants, visitors 
were permitted to see the chapel, class-rooms, 
and dormitories. Some amusement was afforded 
by the expressions of astonishment elicited by the 
cheerful appearance of both Sisters and pupils, as 
it was generally believed that the inmates of a 
convent could not be otherwise than miserable. 

One day a carriage full of ladies stopped at the 
gate ; the card taken to the reverend Mother was that 
of the Duchess of St. Albans, who was conducted 
through the establishment by Sister Agnes Xavier. 
In the schoolroom the party of visitors found the 
children engaged with Mother St. John Chry- 
sostom, who was giving a lesson in making arti- 
ficial flowers, an accomplishment in which she 
excelled. A table covered with those that were 


finished attracted the admiration of the Duchess, 
who, without further ceremony, swept them all 
into an embroidered apron which she wore, after 
the fashion of the day. Turning to her dame de 
compagnie, she said, " Leave a ten pound note." 
The flowers were willingly relinquished on such 
liberal terms. 

Mother St. John Chrysostom was a perfect mis- 
tress of all kinds of needlework, and many beauti- 
ful specimens of her skill remain at St. Margaret's 
in the vestments which she and her pupils em- 
broidered. The drawing-class was conducted by 
Sister Agnes Xavier, whose reputation as an artist 
had been widespread long before she entered 
religion. Even in the convent she was frequently 
requested to paint miniatures by those who re- 
membered her fame as the first lady artist of the 
day. She brought to St. Margaret's some of the 
paintings she had executed in Italy, and they are 
unrivalled in their purity of tone and exquisite 

It was a great advantage to the school to pos- 
sess mistresses so eminently qualified for the work 
of teaching. The frequent visits of Dr. Carruthers, 
Mr. Gillis, and other friends interested in the con- 
vent school, were a constant stimulus to exertion. 
The venerable bishop regularly assisted at the ex- 
aminations, and himself interrogated the children ; 


when absent or unable to be present, Mr. Gillis, 
or some other ecclesiastic, took his place. 

The religious and their pupils were frequently 
reminded that a stamp of perfection should be 
apparent in all their work, of whatever kind — that 
they should strive to excel ; and this not from 
motives of worldly pride, but for the honour of the 
Catholic Church and the glory of God. 

As time went on, and the question of education 
became one of the leading topics both of Church 
and State, it became still more necessary that 
Catholic schools should be able to hold their own, 
and accordingly we shall find that renewed efforts 
were made, and a higher standard attained, which 
effectually destroys the old-fashioned theory that 
the Church is the enemy of advanced education. 

In the midst of many consolations, however, the 
Community were not exempted from the common 
rule, that those who follow our Lord must carry 
the cross. In the spring of 1837 the health of the 
venerable superior. Mother St. Hilaire, gave way, 
and her children saw with sorrow that she must 
return to her native country. The French superiors 
recalled her (for they retained jurisdiction over the 
subjects whom they had lent to Scotland) ; and her 
departure was the first great trial that fell upon the 
young Community. Mother St. Hilaire was univer- 
sally esteemed and loved ; her subjects were accus- 


tomed to lean upon her as their guide and support 
on every occasion, and some were so deeply attached 
to her that they could not endure the thought of 
separation. One of them, Miss Laing Meason, 
actually accompanied her to France and never 
returned to Edinburgh. The loss of their beloved 
Mother was all the more keenly felt by the Sisters 
that Mr. Gillis was absent at the time of her depar- 
ture. He was in very delicate health, and had 
been ordered by the physicians to try the mineral 
waters at Strathpeffer. 

On this, as on many other occasions, when he 
was far away from his little flock, he endeavoured 
to sustain their courage and animate their zeal by 
the beautiful fatherly letters which he addressed to 
them. His letter of condolence may here be in- 
serted in full, for it contains a well-merited eulogium 
of the good Mother who had left her native land in 
order to assist in the foundation of this Community. 
He wrote from Strathpeffer on 1 6th July 1837 : — 

" My dear Children in Jesus Christ, — I feel 
more than I can express in words the privation to 
which the unavoidable circumstance of my absence 
from Edinburgh subjects me at this moment, and I 
will not disguise from you that my mind would be 
wretched in its thoughts and apprehensions were I 
not convinced, intimately convinced, that now, more 


than at any other time, I can safely rely on your 
fervour in the accomplishment of all your duties ; 
on your unlimited confidence in the guidance of 
Divine Providence, on your simple and silent sub- 
mission to the adorable will of God ; and I am sure 
I can add, — on your attachment to your ecclesiastical 
superiors both in this country and in that which 
several of you have left, to obey, like Abraham, the 
call of our common Master. You are now, for a 
time, my dear children in Christ, a motherless 
family ; but you are not without that Father of us 
all who is in heaven, and who is never nearer to us 
than when we are in tribulation and distress. Fear 
not then, ye little flock, He will not leave you 
orphans. Beg of Him daily to grant to your 
superiors that spirit of wisdom and counsel which 
they now stand in particular need of for your good ; 
and beseech Him likewise to bestow upon you all 
that simple, docile, charitable spirit that will free 
you from all pernicious solicitude and disquiet of 
mind, and dispose you for listening with that 
confidence of children to the voice of Almighty 
God, in that of those whom He has placed over 
you. Both your superiors in France and those of 
this country will have concurred in their views 
respecting the administration of both our little Com- 
munities, ere any permanent arrangement is made 
known to you relative to the future government of 


St. Margaret's and Milton House. Meanwhile, 
the prudence of our worthy Bishop will suggest 
to him what temporary measures are most fit, and 
with them you will comply, as if they had been 
written in the Rule, till such time as everything 
be finally settled. 

'' To her that has left us, my dear children in 
Christ, we owe a debt of gratitude which it would 
ill become me to forget while addressing you on 
the present occasion ; the readiness — nay, the 
eagerness, with which she endeavoured to forward, 
in its earliest infancy, the work that God has 
called you to partake in ; the disinterested manner 
in which, at an advanced period of life, she aban- 
doned her own country, while in a delicate state 
of health, to trust herself to the severities of a 
foreign climate, and to the privations of a land of 
which she knew not even the language ; relying 
upon God alone, and the word of a stranger — 
shall never be obliterated from the heart of him 
whom religion has since taught her to call her 
Father. To you, my dear children in Christ, the 
recollection of her many amiable qualities, the 
purity of her intentions, and the sincerity of her 
affection for you, will long, I trust, render dear 
to you the name and remembrance of your late 

" She could not have undertaken to return alone 


to France. Her departure, then, has necessarily 
deprived us of another Sister, and, I grieve to add, 
that the health of a third has made it necessary 
for her to avail herself of this opportunity of re- 
pairing to a milder climate. But though separated 
outwardly, they will ever remain united with us in 
thought, in affection, and in prayer; let this spiri- 
tual union be mutual. 

"In order to draw down the blessing of Al- 
mighty God, both upon those who have left us, 
and upon those who remain, you will recite daily 
the Litany of the Blessed Virgin, preceded by the 
usual invocation of the Holy Spirit — ' Come, Holy 
Ghost, replenish the hearts of Thy servants,' with its 
versicles and prayers, and followed by the aspira- 
tion, * Most Sacred Heart of Jestis, have mercy 
on us I' three times repeated. The object of these 
prayers is to obtain for us all the respective graces 
we require at this particular juncture, and God's 
blessing and protection for your Mother and her 
travelling companions. 

" These prayers will be continued daily till fur- 
ther intimation be given respecting them. My last 
recommendation to you all is Charity ! Silence ! 
Obedience! Prayer! and may the God of all con- 
solation comfort, strengthen, and protect you. — 
Your unworthy but devoted friend and Father in 
Jesus Christ, James Gillis." 


The paternal advice of Mr. Glllis was carefully 
followed, and fervent daily prayers were offered to 
God for the Mother to whom so much gratitude 
was due, as well as for guidance in the choice of 
those who were to fill the most important posts 
in the Community. 

( 11 ) 



The year 1838 was destined to be a memorable 
one in the annals, not only of St. Margaret's, but 
of the Eastern District of Scotland. The vener- 
able Bishop Carruthers, feeling the weight of 
advancing years, presented a postulation to the 
Holy See for the nomination of Mr. Gillis as 
his coadjutor. The application was favourably 
received, and the Bulls appointing him Bishop of 
LImyra, and Coadjutor of the Eastern District of 
Scotland, with right of succession, were issued on 
1 8th July of the previous year. Owing, however, 
to a verbal error in these documents, the con- 
secration did not take place till Sunday, 2 2d July 
1838. The ceremony was an imposing one, and 
was witnessed by an immense concourse of people, 
both Catholic and Protestant, drawn together, less 
by the novelty of the spectacle, than by the high 
reputation of the Bishop-Elect. Needless to say 
with what joy the inmates of St Margaret's assisted 


at the ceremony. The house was, for once, left in 
charge of one French Lay-Sister, Sister Stephen. 
She felt a little nervous at being alone ; and as a 
precautionary measure, she rang the Community 
bell at the usual hours, that the neighbourhood 
might not suspect her solitary condition. Nothing 
disastrous occurred, and the Sisters were much 
amused at the device of Sister Stephen, which was 
long remembered as a joke against her. 

St. Mary's had been decorated for the auspici- 
ous occasion with much taste and elegance. The 
Gothic pulpit, hung with crimson cloth, displayed 
the armorial bearings of the Right Rev. Dr. 
Carruthers. The passages were carpeted, and 
lined on each side with the school-ofirls of Milton 
House, dressed in white, and gentlemen vergers 
were stationed at intervals along the aisles, having 
in their hands white rods tipped with gold. But 
these secondary matters only diverted the eye 
for an instant from the sanctuary, which naturally 
formed the principal object of attraction. Nothing 
had been left undone that could enhance the 
beauty of the arrangements and decorations. The 
platform of the sanctuary, which had been enlarged 
to nearly the full breadth of the chapel, was 
carpeted with crimson cloth ; and at either extre- 
mity of the Gospel and Epistle side respectively, 
were two small altars, each bearing a large gilt 


crucifix and candlesticks, above which appeared 
the armorial bearings of the bishop -elect. On 
one of these was displayed the episcopal Insignia 
of the new bishop, consisting of crozler, mitre, 
gloves, ring, &c. The faldlstorium for the con- 
secrator stood at the Epistle side of the altar, 
while facing each other, at either side, were the 
chairs for the presiding bishop, Dr. Carruthers, 
and the assisting prelates with their chaplains. 

The consecrating prelate was Bishop Baines, 
Vicar Apostolic of the Western District of England, 
assisted by Bishops Scott and Kyle, Vicars-Apos- 
tolic of the Western and Northern Districts of Scot- 
land. Bishop Murdoch, of Glasgow, preached the 
consecration sermon. The ceremonial was per- 
formed with all the accustomed solemnities. Upon 
the enthronisatlon of the new bishop, the consecra- 
tors intoned the '' Te Deum." A contemporary 
witness says, " At this moment the scene was 
unspeakably grand, solemn, and Imposing, the 
bishops and clergy having arranged themselves 
on both sides In the form of a coronal, to which 
the variety and splendour of their vestments gave 
the most picturesque effect, whilst the centre 
figure of the group, arrayed in full pontificals, 
-appeared in all the mild dignity of his high office, 
as if he had descended from a higher sphere to 
minister and rule in the Church on earth." 


While the choir was still pealing forth Graun's 
magnificent composition, in a harmonious burst of 
praise and thanksgiving, the newly consecrated 
bishop was led pontifically through the chapel, and 
in his progress blessed the people, all of whom 
were deeply affected by this touching part of the 
ceremony. Returning to the sanctuary, he chanted 
the episcopal form of benediction. During the 
last gospel the anthem for the Queen, '' Domine 
salvam fac Reginaml' was sung, the concluding 
prayer being chanted by Dr. Baines. The choir 
performed Beethoven's '' Alleluia Chorus," while the 
clergy retired to the vestry. 

Notwithstanding the length of the ceremony, 
which began at eleven o'clock and did not ter- 
minate till nearly four, no symptom of weariness 
or inattention manifested itself; and even Protes- 
tants, of whom there were several hundreds pre- 
sent, appeared to take almost as deep an interest 
in it as Catholics. It is almost superfluous to add, 
for it is a natural consequence of what has just 
been stated, that the most perfect order and de- 
corum prevailed throughout the whole service ; 
and although considerable discomfort must have 
been experienced by many persons owing to the 
crowded state of the chapel, no one evinced the 
slightest uneasiness or impatience. 

Our space will not permit us to insert the whole 


of the eloquent discourse delivered by Bishop 
Murdoch on this occasion ; but we cannot with- 
hold from our readers the concluding portion. 
After a brief sketch of the foundation and pro- 
gress of the Catholic Church, the preacher proved 
the succession and mission of her bishops from the 
apostles, and their jurisdiction from the Roman 
Pontiff, the direct successor of St. Peter, — then 
turning to the occasion of the day, he thus ad- 
dressed his hearers : — 

*' Gratifying, my Catholic brethren of Edinburgh, 
gratifying in the extreme must be to you the impos- 
ing ceremony which you are now witnessing. With 
hearts full of joy, I doubt not, you have this day all 
hurried to the temple of God, to behold the con- 
secration of him whom Divine Providence has 
destined to preside over you as your bishop ; — and 
justly do you rejoice and feel glad. I am aware 
that the pulpit is not the place, and the celebration 
of the Divine mysteries is not the occasion, for the 
effusion of flattery ; and I know also that the lips 
of God's ministers ought never to utter the language 
of adulation. But surely I may, without impro- 
priety, briefly congratulate you upon the choice 
which your venerable bishop has made of a coad- 
jutor. From what you all know he has been as 
a priest, I think you cannot doubt what he will be 
as a bishop. It is necessary, says St. Paul, that a 


bishop should be blameless ; that he should have a 
good testimony from them that are without ; that he 
should be able to exhort in sound doctrine, and to 
convince gainsayers. By these tests of the apostle 
I fearlessly leave him who is this day raised to the 
Episcopacy to be tried. I boldly challenge any man 
to step forth and before God charge him with any 
delinquency. And if an ardent zeal for the glory 
of God, for the honour of religion, and for the salva- 
tion of souls redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ, 
be another recommendation to the Episcopal office, 
has he not already given proof that this holy virtue 
devours his soul ? Whilst, like the Prophet Jere- 
miah, he might yet style himself but a child in the 
ministry, did he not enter on and carry through 
an undertaking which, considering the time, the 
place, the circumstances, and his means, well might 
and certainly would have appalled any one but the 
man who was determined to yield to no obstacle 
in promoting the glory of God, and who felt in his 
heart that no one ever trusted in the Almighty and 
was confounded ? Is there not in the vicinity of 
your city an establishment which will hand down 
his name in benediction to posterity as that of the 
man who had the courage to revive those holy and 
charitable institutions which once adorned our 
country, but which the hand of misguided zeal 
three hundred years ago had laid In smouldering 


ruins ? Yes, in St. Margaret's Convent he has 
raised to himself a monument, on the front of 
which might be inscribed these words — ' What man 
dare for the glory of God, I dare.' " 

In the event of that 2 2d July there was a consol- 
ing proof that the reign of error and of prejudice 
was approaching its term. A new era had risen 
for Scodand ; the day had dawned, and the shadows 
began to depart. On the following Sunday, Dr. 
Gillis celebrated his first pontifical mass in St. 
Mary's Chapel, Broughton Street. Dr. Baines 
preached. The chapel was again crowded. 

In the course of the previous week it had been 
resolved to pay some tribute of respect to Dr. 
Baines, who, during his short stay in Edinburgh, 
had won the regard of all ; and with this view it 
was decided to present him with an address, ex- 
pressive of the deep sense which the Catholic body 
here entertained of his services, and their admira- 
tion of the manner in which these had been per- 
formed on an occasion to them so interesting and 
important. An address embodying these senti- 
ments was accordingly prepared ; and, by previous 
arrangement, it was agreed that it should be pre- 
sented immediately after mass in the cloister 

The leading members of the congregation as- 
sembled accordingly, when the address, signed 


by Sir Charles Gordon of Drimnin, on behalf of 
the Catholic body in Edinburgh, was read by 
Dr. Browne. 

In his reply, Dr. Baines, after returning thanks 
for the high compliment paid him, said, '' To 
assist, when requested, at the consecration of a 
brother bishop, I regarded, I assure you, as an 
obligation of charity ; whilst to officiate at the 
consecration of a valued and intimate friend, was 
to me a positive pleasure. But, to consecrate 
Dr. Gillis was more than these, it was a great 
honour I and 1 feel confident that my name, when 
it would otherwise have been forgotten, will live 
in the recollection of my having been selected to 
impose hands on a prelate of such distinguished 

Another proof of the estimation in which the 
new bishop was held is furnished by the gifts 
offered on the occasion of his consecration. His 
crozier was presented by Mrs. Colonel Hutchison ; 
altar service by the pupils of St. Margaret's ; 
magnificent vestments by the Abbe Freyer, who 
had been his professor at St. Sulpice, and who 
was a cousin of Napoleon I. The letter which 
accompanied this gift was signed thus, " Aujourdhui 
votre Pere, — demain, votre fils. — Freyer." 

Very shortly after his consecration, Bishop Gillis 
was deputed by the Scotch bishops to inquire into 


the State of such property as belonged to the 
Scottish Mission in France ; and to obtain aid 
from the Society for the Propagation of the Faith. 
This society having been founded for the purpose 
of assisting missions In countries beyond the Hmlts 
of Europe, decHned to come to the aid of Scotland 
and other countries where Catholicity was once 
more reviving, and where assistance was greatly 
needed. As nothing would induce the council 
of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith 
to revoke Its decision, Dr. GIllIs determined to 
obtain the required help by means of another 
channel, and with this view (supported by the 
Archbishop of Paris, Monselgneur de Quelen, 
and other Influential persons) he set on foot a 
j society for affording relief to European missionary 

He succeeded beyond his most sanguine ex- 
pectations. The new institution was entitled 
" L'CEuvre du Catholiclsme en Europe," and its 
central council was established in Paris. It was 
so warmly supported that it bid fair to endanger 
the prosperity of the older society ; and eventually 
the whole case was referred to the Holy See. It 
was decided that rather than have two societies 
whose ends were In reality so similar, and which 
yet might prove injurious to one another by 
reason of their Interests clashing, they should be 


amalgamated, and that all missionary countries, 
whether European or otherwise, should receive 
aid in proportion to their necessities, and the 
resources at command. 

Though the work begun so prosperously was 
given up, Scotland has much reason to be thank- 
ful for the aid received for so many years past, 
from the Association for the Propagation of the 
Faith, owing to the exertions of Bishop GIllIs. 

The following letter was written by Dr. Glllis 
to the Community of St. Margaret's while he was 
in Paris : — 

" Paris, \(^th Jcmuary 1839. 

" My dear Children in Jesus Christ, — A 
letter should reach Edinburgh to-day in which a 
promise is conveyed to you that you are soon to 
receive through the Embassy a literary bundle 
containing special answers to all your epistles ; but 
as I find that my best resolutions are too often 
frustrated by the unforeseen avocations that cast 
up for me every day, many of which, unfortunately, 
I cannot always cast off, I must again beseech my 
creditors to take a shilling In the pound rather 
than lose all ; and to accept as an instalment one 
letter Instead of twenty, till I can make out twenty 
times as much leisure as I have just now, to re- 
pay them in full ; which I do solemnly here declare 
to be my bona fide intention. ' Je vous I'avais bien 


dit,' some of you will be saying, 'que notre pere 
ne tiendrait pas parole, pour son retour. Nous 
voici presque a la fin de Janvier, et II n'a pas 
encore quitte Paris.' Yes, my dear children, but 
If you only knew what detains me here, I am sure 
you would not find fault with me were I to spend 
here the whole twelve months. Don't startle at 
this, however ; I am not going to put your patience 
to such a trial. When I arrived here, I found the 
state of our affairs different from what we had 
supposed it to be ; and that, together with the un- 
settled state of the French Ministry (the fate of 
which is not yet quite decided), has obliged me 
to remain much longer In Paris than I had other- 
wise any Idea of doing. I am glad, however, to 
be able to say, that my time has not been altogether 
lost. I have succeeded in getting possession of 
the Library of the Scotch College here, the books 
of which are now undergoing a regular sorting with 
a view to obtain a correct catalogue of them, and 
to complete such works as have been partly pil- 
laged ; after which operation I shall have them, 
please God, transferred to Scotland. I am also 
getting a search made In the public Archives, 
where, I am convinced, several Interesting and 
important documents may be recovered which be- 
longed to us previous to the first French revolu- 
tion. Several highly important title-deeds of our 


properties here, have In the meantime been mislaid 
in the Bureaux of the different Ministries, which 
I have also been promised the recovery of, and 
which I must endeavour to have immediately 
effected. They have also agreed to name me ad- 
ministrator of the Scotch colleges and properties 
in France, in the name of the Scotch bishops ; 
and I am waiting every day for the 07'donnance to 
that effect. But Divine Providence has, moreover, 
thrown in my way a charitable undertaking, the 
ultimate results of which, if it succeeds, it would 
be difficult to define. It is this. To establish an 
association on a plan somewhat similar to that of 
the Propagation de la Foi, for the support and 
advancement of Catholicism in Europe ; that of the 
Propagation de la Foi being exclusively for the 
benefit of missionary countries out of Europe. 
I have neither time nor space at present to enter 
into a detailed statement as to the high Importance 
of such an undertaking, ' further than that it will 
prove, I trust, truly beneficial to Scotland among 
other countries, and that as to Its organisation 
several great difficulties have already been over- 
come, and that with the assent and concurrence 
of the good Archbishop of Paris, I am to begin 
it, please God, In the beginning of February, by 
one or more charity sermons on behalf of Scotland 
and of those other countries In Europe where our 


holy religion is yet in the minority. Pray for me, 
my dear children in Jesus Christ, that my own 
unworthiness may not present an obstacle to the 
success of so desirable an undertaking ; and de- 
pend upon it God will not allow you to be the 
sufferers from my absence, whilst I remain here 
thus employed for His greater glory, as well, I 
hope, as for your future happiness and the ultimate 
prosperity of our establishments in Edinburgh. 
My health, thank God, continues as good as I 
can expect it to be. I don't expect to become 
a Hercules in strength for some time yet, but as 
long as I hang together, I have reason to be thank- 
ful, and you likewise, after the Saturday, 4th March. 
If God spares me to see that day again, I shall 
probably be saying a Mass of thanksgiving at 
Chavagnes on my way home, as I am determined 
not to delay anywhere unnecessarily the moment 
I can quit Paris, nor make out any other visits 
than those of Lugon and Chavagnes, except at 
Bourbon - Vendee, which is on my way. I can 
assure you, you cannot be more anxious to have me 
back than I am myself to see home once more, 
but I cannot possibly leave at the present moment 
for the reasons above mentioned. Meantime, my 
dear children, continue united among yourselves, 
and apply yourselves with renewed zeal and fer- 
vour to the faithful accomplishment of your various 


duties, — 'tis the surest way of making time short in 
this world, as well as for ensuring elsewhere that 
happiness which awaits us when time shall be no 
longer. God for ever bless, support, and comfort 
you all, is the daily and fervent prayer of your ever 
devoted and affectionate Father and friend in Jesus 
Christ, ►P Jas. Gillis. 

'' P.S. — I would bid you sing, ' // reviendra a 
PdqueSf if I were not afraid that some of you would 
be wicked enough to add, ^ ou d la Trmitdl but I 
do positively assure you I intend to be with you 
' avant Pdques^ so let the sacristan have all things 
ready for Holy Week as usual. God bless you 
all ! " 

He spent Christmas in Paris fulfilling the imme- 
diate end of his mission, and then availing himself 
of a short interval of leisure, he went to Chavagnes 
in Vendee to renew his acquaintance with the 
Religious Congregation at the Mother House. 
There he spent the Feast of the Purification. The 
Annual Letter, sent from the Superioress General 
to all the houses of the Institute, contains a notice 
(which we here subjoin) of this visit, which was 
highly appreciated : — '' During the days which Dr. 
Gillis spent here he was never disengaged. So far 
from resting himself, his Lordship preached at the 


seminary, opened a retreat at the parish church, 
and presided at a ceremony of Clothing and Pro- 
fessions at the convent. Nor were the hours of 
recreation less occupied, for then, with his usual 
kindness, he gave pleasure to every one, his con- 
versation was so charming, so edifying, and the 
anecdotes he related so interesting ! On the Feast 
of the Purification I expressed to his Lordship the 
pleasure we enjoyed in his company ; he sighed as 
he replied : * Your Sisters at St. Margaret's have 
not had Mass this morning ; they have much to 
suffer. ... I shall not be able to return to them 
before Passion Sunday.' " He did not return even 
then ; for he spent Holy Week and Easter in 
Paris ; and knowing how much his absence was felt 
by the Community, he wrote some beautiful letters 
to the Superiors of both houses, giving them 
valuable instructions and all the encouragement 
in his power. 

( 92 ) 



Mother St. John Chrysostom was obliged to leave 
Scotland about this time ; her health was com- 
pletely broken down, and she was recalled to 
France. With Sister Alexis as her travelling com- 
panion, she got as far as London, and on reaching 
the Benedictine Convent at Hammersmith became 
so ill that her life was despaired of. However, God 
had still a great deal of work for this zealous 
religious to do, and He vouchsafed a favourable 
answer to the earnest prayers offered for her re- 
covery. On the 1 6th November, after the physicians 
had given up all hopes of recovery, and she seemed 
at the last extremity, she was suddenly and com- 
pletely cured on the application of some moss from 
St. Wulstan's Well. Her restoration to health was 
as complete as it was instantaneous, and caused no 
little surprise both to the house doctor and the con- 
sulting physician whom he had called in ; they 
declined to attribute it to any miraculous interposi- 


tion, but at the same time declared themselves 
quite unable to account for it by natural causes. 
She continued her journey to Chavagnes, and wrote 
the details of her cure to her beloved Sisters and 
children in Edinburgh, where the news gave great 
joy to all who had the privilege of knowing the good 

The year 1840 was rendered memorable in the 
annals of St. Margaret's by the funeral of the 
venerable Bishop of Kingston, the Honourable and 
Right Rev. Bishop Macdonell, who had died sud- 
denly in Dumfries, and whose remains were laid in 
the convent vaults until the wishes of his people 
in Canada should be ascertained. So remarkable 
had been the career of this illustrious prelate, and 
so much good had been effected by his zeal in 
the interests of the Catholic Highlanders, that 
Dr. Gillis resolved that he should be buried with 
honour.^ He brought the body to Edinburgh and 

1 The Honourable Alexander Macdonell devoted his whole life to 
the relief and improvement of the Highlanders. When at the end of 
the last century the Highland proprietors thought to improve their 
estates by removing the tenants of small holdings and substituting 
farmers of a wealthier class, Mr. Macdonell, then a missionary priest 
in Inverness-shire, constituted himself the apostle and guardian angel 
of his dispossessed countrymen. At first his influence obtained work 
for hundreds of them in the factories of Glasgow and Greenock ; but 
the depression of trade, consequent upon the Continental Wars, threw 
the Highlanders out of employment, and the zealous priest conceived 
the idea of getting them embodied as a Catholic corps in his Majesty's 
service, which was accomplished, with Macdonell of Glengarry, 
chief of the clan, as colonel, and the Rev. Alexander Macdonell as 


caused the obsequies to be performed with extra- 
ordinary pomp at St. Mary's, after which the coffin 
was placed In the vaults under the convent chapel. 
It lay there till 1861, when, as we shall see, the 
Bishop of Kingston, Dr. Horan, came to remove 
it to Canada. 

On the Feast of St. Andrew, 1840, Sister Agnes 
Xavier Trail and Sister Margaret Teresa Clapper- 
ton, with two French Sisters, made their vows, 
which bound them to the Society for life ; this being 
the first solemn profession of religious for centuries, 
it excited considerable curiosity, and was witnessed 
by nearly 400 people In the convent chapel. 

The first death that occurs In a Community Is 
always a deeply felt sorrow. As years pass by 
they rob us of many who are dear to us, and who 
will never be forgotten ; but probably the first death 

chaplain. When the regiment was disbanded in 1802, he accom- 
panied a great number of the men into Canada, and there spent him- 
self in the midst of them for more than thirty years, working wonders 
for their spiritual and temporal welfare. The mission that brought 
him across the ocean at the advanced age of 79, was still the same 
that had prompted his labours in youth. He left a flourishing 
Church in Canada, and now he returned to see the condition of those 
who had remained behind. He visited various parts of the High- 
lands, crossed over to Ireland, and finally returned to Scotland, 
arriving at Dumfries on the nth of January 1840. Next day he said 
Mass as usual, but on the 14th he called his servant and complained 
of cold ; the servant asked if he felt unwell, and receiving no reply, 
quickly summoned the Rev. Mr. Reid, who administered Extreme 
Unction and the last Blessing, and the noble old man passed into 
eternity without a moan. He may truly be said to have " fallen 
asleep in the Lord.'' He was then eighty years of age. 


makes more impression than any which follow. On 
the 13th of April 184.2 the Community mourned 
the decease of Sister Mary Philomena Kirsopp. 
This amiable young Sister had been one of the 
first pupils in the convent school. On the com- 
pletion of her education she spent a short time with 
her family at the Spital, Hexham, and then begged 
to be admitted to devote her life to God in religion. 
She caught cold on the journey to Scotland, and 
was so evidently delicate that her health seemed 
to render her stay at St. Margaret's unadvisable. 
Many prayers were offered, and St. Philomena 
was particularly invoked to obtain the restoration 
to health of the fervent postulant. She became so 
much better that she received the habit, and — in 
gratitude for the intercession of the saint — the name 
of Philomena. 

The recovery was, however, not permanent, 
rapid consumption set in, and the end approached 
only too quickly. On her deathbed Sister Mary 
Philomena pronounced her vows, and overflowing 
with happiness and gratitude gave up her soul 
to God. Her sorrowing Sisters felt that they 
had indeed lost one most dear to them on earth, 
but they had gained an intercessor in heaven. 

The first postulant who joined the Community, 
as we have seen, was Miss Eliza Witham, of 
Lartington, called in religious Sister Angela ; she 


took a prominent part in the care of the young 
ladies at St. Margaret's, being highly qualified 
for this charge by her refinement of manner and 
cultivated mind. She was both beloved and 
revered by her pupils, to whom she was per- 
fectly devoted. One evening it was observed 
that she left the schoolroom hurriedly, and that 
her handkerchief was stained with blood. The ill- 
ness increased, and Sister Angela was the second 
nun of St. Margaret's who passed away from 
earth to heaven. She expired with a smile on 
her lips, on Holy Saturday, 6th of April 1844. 



( 97 ) 



For the first few years after his consecration, Dr. 
Gillis was chiefly occupied in labouring for the 
Church in Scotland by his foreign negotiations for 
pecuniary aid and by preaching. We may easily 
understand that he devoted such leisure as re- 
mained to him to the Community at St. Margaret's, 
and to the instructions which he gave with such 
success on Sunday evenings in the cloister chapel 
at St. Mary's, and afterwards in the oratory at 
Milton House. He was now called to take a more 
active part in the direction of the Diocese. Dr. 
Carruthers felt the effects of advancing age, and 
determined to retire to Blairs College ; and while 
retaining the administration of the vicariate in his 
own hands, he resigned the charge of Edinburgh to 
his coadjutor. 

Dr. Gillis then carried into effect some alterations 
and improvements in the church and presbytery in 
Broughton Street. A new altar, pulpit, and bishop's 


throne were erected, and the sanctuary was enclosed 
by a carved oak screen. The residence of the 
clergy was likewise arranged with a view to their 
greater comfort and convenience. 

The services rendered by Dr. Glllis to religion 
were recognised by the Catholic body, and found 
expression on the 14th July 1841, when a large and 
influential meeting was held in the Waterloo Rooms, 
Edinburgh, Sir William Drummond Stewart of 
Murthly being In the chair. On this occasion the 
bishop was presented with a magnificent clock, sur- 
mounted by a planetarium or orrery. Inside the 
glass case were two hundred guineas, intended for 
the purchase of a carriage. Sir William Stewart 
briefly stated the object of the meeting, and called 
on Mr. Stodart Macdonald to read the address, 
which set forth the feelings of admiration, respect, 
and affection which had actuated the subscribers, 
and which they desired to express to the bishop, 
and at the same time to beg his acceptance of the 
testimonial which was presented to him. The 
bishop made an appropriate reply to the address, 
returning thanks to his friends for their kind feel- 
ings towards him, and for the gifts that had been 
offered. We need scarcely add that the " two 
hundred guineas " were expended on ecclesiastical 

The week following this meeting Dr. Gillis 



celebrated Pontifical High Mass and administered 
Confirmation in the newly-restored chapel of 
Murthly Castle, Perthshire, the seat of Sir William 
Stewart. This chapel had existed prior to the 
so-called Reformation ; and the conversion of Sir 
William Stewart to the Catholic faith was the 
happy occasion of the ancient edifice being again 
used for its original purpose. Alas ! it has once 
more fallen into Protestant hands, by default of 
Catholic heirs. May angels still guard it for the 
ancient faith till brighter days dawn again ! 

About this time the bishop founded a Catholic 
Friendly Society, under the name of the *' Holy 
Guild of St. Joseph." Its object was to provide 
assistance for the members in time of sickness 
and old age, and to defray funeral expenses. This 
society did good service for many years ; but when 
deprived of the protecting hand that had fostered 
its existence, it was dissolved, and its place has been 
taken by various other confraternities annexed to 
the different parish churches. 

It was on Quinquagesima Sunday, 1842, that 
Bishop Gillis opened for the first time in Edinburgh 
the devotion of the Quarant' Ore, and the convent 
chapel was the privileged sanctuary in which it was 
inaugurated. We can easily imagine the joy and 
alacrity with which the religious undertook to pre- 
pare the throne where our Blessed Lord was to give 


audience to His loving children, and bestow His 
blessing upon them. They spared no pains to adorn 
the sanctuary for the occasion, and the three days 
during which the exposition lasted were a happy 
carnival for them. It was a consolation to them 
also to witness the fervour of the people, who came 
in great numbers to pay their homage of love and 
reparation ; and earnestly did they pray that this 
devotion might soon be known and practised 
throughout the land. 

The bishop never lost an opportunity of advanc- 
ing the interests of religion, and he knew well that 
many of the beautiful devotions encouraged by the 
Church, but not practised in this country, needed 
only to be known in order to be appreciated. He 
ventured further than any of his predecessors, 
indeed it was a characteristic of his, which did not 
escape the notice of those who had known him from 
his earliest years. To him we owe the introduction 
of the Living Rosary which he established at Milton 
House, amongst the pious Catholics who frequented 
the Sunday evening instructions there. 

Let us turn for a moment from our humble annals 
to recall an event which awoke the loyal enthusiasm 
of the whole country — the first visit of Her Majesty 
Queen Victoria and the Prince Consort to the 
northern portion of Great Britain. This occurrence 
brought joy to the Catholics of Edinburgh, no less 


than to their Protestant neighbours, and Dr. GIllIs 
did all in his power to animate his flock with the 
heartfelt loyalty for which he was himself con- 
spicuous. The royal yacht left Woolwich on Mon- 
day, 29th August, and after a prosperous voyage 
arrived In the Firth of Forth on the evening of 
Wednesday the 31st. An officer on board one of 
the vessels of the squadron published a few interest- 
ing details of the advance of the ships up the Firth. 
'* When off Dunbar, besides the illumination of the 
town, a royal salute from the battery, the magnifi- 
cent sight burst upon us of beacon fires lighted on 
all the conspicuous Scottish hills. The night was 
quite dark but clear; astern were all the lights of 
the steamers, bending like a crescent round the 
royal yacht in the centre ; while on the coast around 
In East Lothian, Mid-Lothian, in Linlithgow, Fife, 
and Clackmannan, bonfires blazed on all the remark- 
able heights, all announcing the cordial welcome 
that awaited her Majesty from her Scottish sub- 
jects, while to the east of Edinburgh the summit of 
Arthur's Seat seemed a blaze of fire, shedding a 
flood of light over the surrounding heights and the 
valley below, and giving an aspect of wild grandeur 
to the surrounding scenery. 

" It has been my lot to witness beautiful Illumina- 
tions In various parts of the world . . . but I never 
remember anything that made so deep an Impres- 


sion as our passage up the Firth of Forth on that 
occasion. The beautiful expanse of water, the 
brilliant lights around, the rapid speed of the 
vessels, the recollection of the precious freight 
intrusted to our charge, and the feeling that 
through the merciful providence of God we had 
been enabled to bring our voyage to a happy end, 
all combined to render the scene one of thrilling 
interest, far beyond my powers of expression." 

Her Majesty's early landing at Granton Pier on 
the morning of Thursday, the tardy arrival of the 
Lord Provost of Edinburorh, and the o^eneral mis- 
management of the pre-arranged ceremonial, were 
long remembered. 

The royal party were entertained at Dalkeith 
Palace by the Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch, 
and paid their first visit to Edinburgh on Saturday, 
September 3d. They entered the Queen's Park 
by Parson's Green, where an immense crowd had 
assembled, all manifesting by loud cheers the en- 
thusiasm with which they were animated. The 
cortege proceeded up the Canongate, and here, we 
may be sure, the bishop had not forgotten the 
little orphans of Milton House. The Sisters had 
managed to provide the children with white frocks 
and neat blue bonnets. Each child was provided 
with a basket of choice flowers, and all were placed 
on a platform the height of the garden wall. As 


the royal carriage passed, they rendered their 
homage to the Queen by showering down their 
bouquets on her and the Prince. Her Majesty 
smiled graciously, and expressed the gratification 
which this simple and touching welcome afforded 
her. Prince Albert fastened one of the flowers In 
his button-hole, and the royal pair bowed repeatedly 
in acknowledgment of the tribute of loyalty offered 

( I04 ; 



Business connected with the interests of the Scot- 
tish Benedictine Monastery at Ratisbonne took Dr. 
Gillls abroad in August 1843. ^^ ^^^ ^^t pro- 
ceed direct to Bavaria, and when at length he 
arrived in Munich, a letter awaited him announc- 
ing the death of his dear friend and benefactor, 
Mr. Menzies. At once he hurried home in order 
to direct the funeral obsequies and attend to the 
affairs which this death would render Immediately 
imperative upon himself. In Mr. Menzies the in- 
mates of the convent lost a valuable friend, and 
one whose fatherly kindness had adopted them as 
his own family. His sudden death was a great 
shock to them, and was all the more keenly felt 
as the Bishop was absent at the time. They pre- 
pared, as they knew Dr. GIllIs would wish, to re- 
ceive the remains of the venerable old man with 
all the reverence due to his grreat virtue and bene- 
volence. The chapel was draped in black, and a 
large catafalque erected in the centre of the choir 




surrounded with lights. The body lay there await- 
ing the instructions of the Bishop, from the 12th 
of October till the Feast of All Saints, on the 
evening of which It was conveyed to St. Mary's 
Church for the solemn Requiem Mass. 

Meantime Dr. Gillis returned, and on Sunday 
the 28th of October he Issued a beautiful Pastoral 
Letter, eulogising the departed gentleman, bewail- 
ing his loss to the Church and to all works of 
charity, and finally giving directions for the funeral, 
which was to take place on Thursday the 2d 
November, the Feast of All Souls. No one was 
better at organising a grand ceremony than Dr. 
Gillis ; he not only conceived the ideas, but he had 
the necessary talent for carrying them into effect. 

Nothing was ever forgotten that could add to 
the moral effect which he strove to produce, 
and certainly the funeral that took place on the 
2d of November was such as left a lasting im- 
pression upon all who witnessed it. St. Mary's 
Church was beautifully decorated for the solemn 
occasion ; the windows darkened, the paintings 
covered with mourning; the gallery and pulpit 
draped, and ornamented with the escutcheon of 
the deceased ; a splendid catafalque In the centre 
of the church, with pillars supporting a canopy 
of black cloth and ermine surmounted with plumes, 
&c. From the centre a large burnished crucifix 


rose above all the rest, and was the most con- 
spicuous object there. In the absence of Bishop 
Carruthers, the Requiem was sung by Bishop 
Kyle, assisted by the Rev. Stephen Keenan, 
deacon, and the Rev. W. Bennett of Stirling, sub- 
deacon ; Bishop Murdoch preached, while Bishop 
GIllIs took his place as chief mourner at the head of 
the bier, all the priests who could possibly attend 
were present, and the solemn music of Mozart's 
Requiem Mass added to the impressiveness of 
the function. Probably Scotland never witnessed 
such an imposing funeral ceremony, even in the 
days of Catholicity. The procession which passed 
through the streets, carrying the precious remains to 
rest in the crypt at St. Margaret's, was such as 
Edinburgh never saw equalled. At the close of the 
service in St. Mary's the procession was formed : — 

Two Mutes on Horseback ; 
Twelve Baton-men ; 
The men of the Congregation, all in deep mourning ; 
The Standard-Bearers and Standard ; 
The Council of the Holy Guild of St. Joseph ; 
The Members of the Guild ; 
The Funeral Car, 
drawn by six beautiful horses led by grooms, and bearing the 
Sarcophagus containing the body of the deceased, sur- 
mounted by the large burnished crucifix, rising above 
the plumes, and flanked by three members of the 
Holy Guild carrying lamps of most elegant 
design on handsome shafts ; 


The Deceased's Private Carriage, 

followed by twenty-five poor men who had been clothed 

at Mr. Menzies' expense, bearing torches ; 

The private carriage of the Right Rev. Dr. Gillis, with his 

Lordship as Chief Mourner ; 

The Bishops and Clergy in mourning carriages each 

drawn by four horses ; 

The Trustees of the Deceased ; 

The Pall-Bearers, 

And the private friends of the deceased, all in carriages. 

In this order the procession passed along York 
Place, St. Andrew's Street and Princes Street, 
down Lothian Road and across Bruntsfield Links 
to the convent, extending to half a mile in length. 
It is believed that not fewer than 50,000 of the 
inhabitants turned out to see the imposing spectacle, 
the large crucifix towering over all, the symbol of 
faith and salvation, being the chief object of atten- 
tion. The body was laid before the altar in the 
convent chapel, surrounded by a group of simple 
but sincere mourners — the nuns and their pupils, 
the Sisters from Milton House, and the orphans ; 
the Misei^ere was chanted and the De Profundis, 
then the Community formed with the children a 
procession through the convent garden to the 
crypt below the sanctuary, where the mortal re- 
mains of their revered friend and benefactor were 
laid beside those of the good and great Bishop 
Macdonell of Canada. One hundred poor people 


were clothed at the expense of the deceased, fifty 
CathoHcs and fifty Protestants; the male portion 
of the Catholic poor alone attended the funeral. 

Towards the end of October the nuns were hon- 
oured by a visit from the young Due de Bordeaux, 
the representative of the dethroned branch of the 
Bourbon family. This visit was especially appre- 
ciated by the French religious, who retained all their 
Venddan loyalty, and who rejoiced at having so 
favourable an occasion of giving expression to their 
sentiments towards him whom they styled Henri V. 

There were many in Edinburgh who remembered 
the Prince as a boy at Holyrood, and who gave 
him a cordial welcome to Scotland ; but we must 
confine ourselves to his reception at St. Margaret's, 
which was indeed a great event to the inmates of 
the quiet enclosure. In the absence of the bishop, 
Mr. Malcolm, the senior priest at St. Mary's, 
did the honours, and the rooms of the convent 
were tastefully decorated for the reception of the 
royal visitor. The refectory, drawing-room, and 
school-room, forming a suite that communicated 
with each other by large folding-doors, were 
thrown into one, and at the upper end, in the 
large oriel window, a throne was erected with a 
neat dais of crimson velvet surmounted by a 
crown and the fleur-de-lis, with the initial letter H 
in gold beneath It. Opposite the throne, and at 



the further end, standing against a crimson back- 
ground, was a bust of his Royal Highness, taken 
when last in Edinburgh. On the left of the throne 
stood the Sisters, and on the right the pupils of 
the boarding-school, dressed in white with green 
sashes ; the pupils of Milton House, and a few 
lay friends. Lady Dorothea Leslie, sister of the 
Earl of Newburgh ; Mrs. Colonel Hutchison, Mrs. 
Hamilton Colt of Gartsherrle, and her daughter, 
Mrs. Osborne; Mrs. Keith, Mrs. Collingwood of 
Lillburn Towers, and her two nieces, the daugh- 
ters of Sir Thomas Haggerston; Mrs. M'Kenzie, 
Colonel Leslie, Mr. Turnbull, advocate ; Mr. Alex- 
ander Fletcher, and several priests. 

About half-past twelve the Duke arrived, and, 
preceded by Mr. Malcolm, entered the school-room, 
and took his place on the seat of honour, whilst 
Miss Kyle of BInghill, one of the pupils at the 
piano, played " Henri Quatre," as an entree. 

The eldest of the young lady pupils at the time, 
Miss Kyan, being presented to His Highness by 
the reverend Mother, read the following address : — 

''To His Royal Highness the Duke of 

'* May it please your Royal Highness, — 

"Vl^e, the pupils of St. Margaret's Convent and 
the orphans of Milton House, most respectfully, and with 


the cordial feelincrs of dutiful and grateful hearts, welcome 
your Royal Highness within the hallowed precincts of St. 
Margaret's. We proudly avail ourselves of this auspicious 
occasion to express all the happiness we feel in seeing you 
in Scotland. When you were last in Edinburgh, illustrious 
Prince, St. Margaret's was merely thought of; but now in its 
beauty and usefulness it teaches us to think of and imitate 
those whose piety and zeal, while advancing the interests 
of truth, have reared in our behalf this thrice happy home; 
and while recurring to this past, we have been taught 
affectionately to remember your illustrious sister, one 
whom w^e love. Prince, as yourself; and whose hearts, 
when they were young as ours, first communicated with 
God at the sanctuary of St. Mary's Church in Edin- 

" We bitterly regret the absence on this happy morning 
of our beloved Father, the Right Rev. James Gillis, Bishop 
of Limyra; and we still weep for the loss of a good man 
and a devoted friend of your Royal Highness, whose 
cherished and venerable remains, honoured with merits 
and the sanctity of years, now rest upon a bier, and whose 
marble lips, could they but speak, would breathe a bless- 
ing on Henry of France. But we do not on this account 
hail with less joy your visit to St. Margaret's; we know 
that your Royal Highness is familiar with sorrow, and the 
circumstance, whilst reminding us of the presence this day 
at St. Margaret's of a noble scion of the Lilies, will teach 
us through life a useful lesson, that true pleasure, like the 
flower of the cemetery, never 'grows more luxuriant than 
in the neighbourhood of death.' 

" Led by our studies to a knowledge of the history 
and virtues of your Royal House, and instructed in the 
language, and sharing in the affectionate loyalty of our 


dear superiors, we fervently pray that every good and per- 
fect gift may be granted and secured to 

''Henry of France. 

** Signed In the name of the pupils of St. Margaret's 
Convent and the orphans of Milton House. 

" Phillis Kyan." 

St. Margaret's Convent, Edinburgh, 
20th October 1843. 

To this address the Duke replied, that it gave 
him the greatest pleasure to revisit Scotland, 
which was associated with many of his earliest 
thoughts, and not the weakest, those that were 
connected with religion. Since his return to Scot- 
land all classes had shown him the greatest atten- 
tion, and while gratified by all, he certainly felt 
the greatest delight in those that were combined 
with, or flowed from religion, for therein lay the 
secret of individual as of national happiness. 

He felt greatly pleased with the allusion to 
his sister. She, too, had not forgotten Scotland, 
and one of her latest requests to him was that 
when in Edinburgh he would inquire after several 
young ladies whose names had been given to him, 
and who had been receiving lessons with his sister's 

The Lady Superior then presented the inmates 
of the convent and of Milton House to the Duke, 
whose respectful attentions to them and the pupils 


gave great satisfaction. He was afterwards con- 
ducted through the garden, stopping at every point 
from which the city was to be seen, and when he 
said adieu at the convent gate, the party he left 
breathed a prayer for his safety and prosperity. 

Passing by the bust of himself which was con- 
spicuously placed In the hall of reception, he smiled 
and remarked, ''Ah, jetals bien jeune alors." On 
the following Sunday he heard Mass In St. Mary's, 
where Mr. Malcolm had prepared a pew In the 
centre, ornamented with the crown and fleur-de-lis. 
Every mark of respectful attention was paid to him 
by the leading Catholics In Edinburgh, and he duly 
appreciated It all, having a kind word for every- 
body ; however, he paid the nuns this compliment, 
with which they were much pleased : he told Mr. 
Malcolm, " De toutes les fetes que j'ai eu en 
Ecosse, il n'en est point qui m'aient 6te au coeur 
comme celle a Ste. Marguerite." Leaving the city, 
he secured for himself the blessing of the poor, by 
leaving a large sum of money to be distributed In 
charity by Mr. Malcolm. 

it ' 

( 113 ) 



The establishment at Milton House, which had 
done so much good in the city, and been so 
warmly supported at first, was now beginning to 
feel that the charm of novelty had worn off, and 
that people were less ready to pay their subscrip- 
tions than they had been at first ; the work was 
not of a self-remunerating nature, and an existence 
that depends entirely or even mainly upon the 
benevolence of others Is always precarious ; the 
superiors felt the burden of supporting the poor 
and the orphans to be quite beyond their means, 
and it was at length resolved to break up the 
establishment. The orphans were dispersed to 
other institutions of the same kind in Great Britain 
and Ireland, and the pupil boarders transferred 
to Pentland House, which was rented for the 
purpose and used as a second-class boarding- 
From the books kept at Milton House, we find that 





the average number of poor children attend- 
ing the school during the nine years was 380 
Those who came to Sunday-school . 500 

The first communions made . . . 704 

Protestant children Instructed by their 

parents' desire ..... 69 
Converts Instructed .... 307 

Adults Instructed . . . . -9^7 

Abjurations made at Milton House, . "^J 

Indigent families visited and assisted . 1640 
Poor relieved at the Dispensary . . 4300 

The boarding-school was afterwards removed 
to more suitable premises in George Square, and 
ultimately to Lochrin House ; but when the last 
lease of Lochrin House expired in 1858, the 
superiors decided upon giving up the boarding- 
school as being disadvantageous to the convent ; 
and after a short interval they opened at No. 4 
Nicolson Square a day-school, under the name 
of St. Ann's Seminary ; this school has succeeded 
admirably, and Is now carried on in a handsome 
building erected by the religious on their own pro- 
perty In Strathearn Road. 

After the death of Mr. Menzies, Dr. GIllIs 
continued to reside at Greenhlll, and to super- 
intend the two Edinburgh congregations. He 
frequently celebrated Pontifical High Mass, and 


Theresa Neumann 


(Her own Handwriting) 

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delivered courses of controversial lectures at St. 
Mary's. These last bore abundant fruit, by en- 
lightening the minds of the many Protestants who 
went to hear him, at first merely out of curiosity, 
or admiration of his eloquence, and who in many 
cases were drawn to study the Catholic doctrine, 
and to submit to the Church. Dr. Gillis took 
the greatest pains with the converts who con- 
sulted him. He never hurried them into the 
Church ; their reception was delayed until both 
he and they were perfectly satisfied with their 
convictions of the truths of religion and with in- 
struction. He began by recommending a careful 
study of the '' Penny Catechism," and then as each 
point required elucidation, he applied his whole 
attention to the subject, and never left any point 
until it had been thoroughly explained and ac- 
cepted. He also acted with the greatest prudence 
and kindness towards the Protestant relatives of 
his converts, and in many cases won whole families 
to the Church by dealing thus gently with their 
prejudices, and never missing an opportunity of 
placing the truth, with all its beauty, before their 
minds. Many eminent men consulted him by 
letter, and received replies which contained ex- 
haustive information on the point at issue. It was 
indeed a red-letter day for the Bishop when he 
could welcome a wandering sheep to the fold ! 


He usually received his converts Into the Church 
at St. Margaret's, where he said Mass, and adminis- 
tered Holy Communion and Confirmation to his 
neophytes. No one who had the happiness of 
being received Into the Church by Bishop Gillis 
could ever forget his joy, or his paternal kindness. 
He was indeed a " good shepherd," rejoicing to 
open the fold to those '' other sheep " who had 
heard the Master's voice and followed It. The first 
convert received by Dr. Gillis into the Church at 
St. Margaret's was the late Mrs. Glassford Bell of 
Glasgow. A long list of names which swell the 
number of " Rome's recruits " as years went by, 
include among others those of Mrs. Montelth of 
Carstairs, Mrs. Edgar, her son and several daugh- 
ters, Mr. and Mrs. Gerard of Rochsoles, Mrs. 
Pittar, Viscount and Viscountess Feilding, the 
Very Rev. Henry Rawes, Mr. and Mrs. Leslie and 
their family, Lord Ralph Kerr, Lord John Kerr, 
Captain Miller of Glenlee, &c. &c. These and 
many others look back to the quiet chapel at the 
convent as the cradle of their faith, and venerate 
the memory of him who first broke for them within 
its walls the bread of angels. In preparing con- 
verts for reception Into the Church, Dr. Gillis 
naturally employed the nuns to assist In giving 
the necessary Instructions ; and In this work Sister 
Agnes Xavler was a valuable aid. She had o-one 


over the ground herself, and knew Its difficulties. 
She had studied every phase of Protestant doc- 
trine, and the refutation of every one of its many 
fallacies. Moreover, her love for the faith, and her 
ardent zeal for souls, led her to spare no pains in 
smoothing the way for those who were striving to 
find the truth. 

In September 1844 Dr. Gillls purchased the parks 
at Greenhill, hoping to be able to erect on that site 
a cathedral and a college for the education of young 
men for the priesthood. With the co-operation of 
the gentlemen of Edinburgh he also established 
the brotherhood of St. Vincent de Paul, so widely 
known for its charity to the poor, and which con- 
tinues its labours, having considerably developed 
and prospered since its foundation. In the first 
days of the society, after having had a conference 
at Greenhill, the members were in the habit of 
resorting to the convent chapel where benediction 
was given by the Bishop. 

( ii8 ) 



On the Feast of St. Margaret, loth of June 1846, 
Mass was said in the convent chapel by the Rev. 
Alexander O'Donnell, who on that day was ap- 
pointed chaplain to the Community, in place of 
the Rev. ^neas Dawson. Father O'Donnell was 
chosen for this position by Bishop Carruthers, 
who held him in the highest esteem. He lived 
at St. Mary's, Broughton Street, during the first 
nine years of his chaplaincy ; but, notwithstanding 
the distance he had to walk, Father O'Donnell 
never failed to be at the convent in eood time 
for the early Mass, and never (except when 
laid up by a dangerous illness,) did he disappoint 
the Sisters by failing to offer the Holy Sacrifice. 
He would even forego a few days of vacation 
rather than put the Community to the smallest 

His devotedness to the interests of the Com- 
munity during a period of nearly thirty years is 


beyond all praise ; and the religious justly look 
upon him as the best friend they have ever known, 
after Bishop Gillis. 

In the spring of 1847 Dr. Gillis set out for 
the Continent, where he visited Ratisbon, Munich, 
Vienna, Venice, and Rome. The chief object of 
the journey was to inquire into matters connected 
with the monastery in Ratisbon, which It was 
desired to convert into a seminary for the education 
of ecclesiastical students for the Scottish Mission. 

While In Rome he obtained a Brief from Pius 
IX. approving of the erection of a cathedral In 
Edinburgh. This Brief was published by Bishop 
Carruthers In a Pastoral Letter on Easter Sunday 

In July 1848 Dr. Gillis returned to Bavaria, 
with ample powers from the Vicars-Apostolic to 
conclude the business of the monastery at Ratisbon 
on the best terms he could obtain. He made 
every possible effort with the Bavarian Govern- 
ment, and had recourse also to Lord Palmerston 
(then Foreign Secretary) to prevent the old pro- 
perty being taken out of the hands of the Scottish 
Mission to be given over to the Benedictine Order 
In Bavaria. The British Government made a 
representation through their envoy at Munich, and 
the measure was suspended, and finally referred 
to the decision of the Holy See. 


The following letter from Dr. Gillls to the 
Community at St. Margaret's will give some idea 
of his stay in Germany, at a time when there was 
a good deal of excitement on the Continent. It 
will also prove how closely he was united in 
thought and memory with those he left in their 
quiet convent home. 

*' Switzerland, St. Gall, 
ibih October 1848. 

"My very dear Children in Christ, — Three 
months have now elapsed since I left London for 
the Continent ; they have swept past me, like most 
of my existence for the last twenty years, with the 
rapidity of lightning. With much to think of, much 
to write, and much to do, I have travelled since 
I left you some thousands of miles in anything 
but good health ; and those among you who know 
how different the outward appearances are which 
a Catholic bishop is obliged to assume abroad 
from those of presbyteriaii simplicity in honour 
throughout Scotland, will easily understand that my 
leisure moments cannot have been much increased 
in number from being obliged constantly to pack 
and unpack, to dress and undress, to be one day 
a layman and another day a bishop, to run here 
and run there for every single thing I wanted — to 
be, in a word, my own chaplain, my own secre- 


tary, my own servant, my own paymaster, my 
ow^n everything. 

" Without wasting more w^ords, then, in en- 
deavouring to describe my protean existence since 
the month of July last, let me assure at once 
every inmate of St. Margaret's that not a single 
day has passed since I crossed the British Channel 
in which I have not re-crossed it in thought and 
prayer in all the earnestness of my heart for those 
whom I now address as my own children. I have 
knelt at many a holy shrine since I last bade 
you farewell, but I have never done so without 
making your spiritual and temporal welfare the 
special object of my unworthy prayer. My last 
petitions have been offered to-day in the cathedral 
(once the old Abbatial) church of the Monks of 
St. Gall. This celebrated old Benedictine abbey 
was founded by a Scottish hermit of the name of 
Gall in the beginning of the seventh century, and 
the town of St. Gall owes its origin to the abbey. 
The abbey was once the nursery of learning 
throughout the whole of Europe, and the rem- 
nants of its library still contain manuscripts of the 
highest value. I reached this yesterday on my 
return from Lyons ; and to-day being the Festival 
of St. Gall, and still kept here with the greatest 
solemnity, I had the happiness of offering up the 
Pontifical High Mass, the first which a Scotch 


bishop ever celebrated here since the period of 
the Reformation, and, in so far as tradition goes, 
for many a long year, if not century, before. 

''Munich, i\st Octobe7\ — Another fortnight has 
elapsed since I was obliged to break off the above 
and since then my time has been entirely swal- 
lowed up with travelling, or with the business I 
have here on hand, and which, considering the 
difficulties with which it is beset, has required my 
whole leisure and attention. I cannot, however, 
allow this month to close without endeavouring to 
bring likewise to its termination a letter that long 
ere this time should have found its way to Edin- 
burgh. To give you then some general idea of 
my wanderings since the end of July, I found on 
arriving at Frankfort that the Bishop of Ratisbon, 
whom I required to see in the first instance, was 
not at Ratisbon, but in Bohemia, and to Bohemia 
consequently I was obliged to go. I returned 
with the Bishop to Ratisbon, which we reached on 
the eve of the Assumption, and on the following 
day I officiated pontifically morning and afternoon 
in the cathedral church, one of the finest old 
Gothic churches in Germany. 

*' After spending a fortnight at Ratisbon, making 
myself master of the history of the old monastery 
and of the various documents to which I required 


to refer in treating with the Government here, a 
study that was rendered rather difficult from the 
circumstance of my not understanding German, 
and having as my only translators persons who 
had almost completely forgotten their English, and 
after drawing out my memorial to the King and 
o^ettinof it translated into German for the Govern- 
ment, I set out for Munich, which I reached on 
the 29th August. Here thirteen days more were 
spent running first after one person and then after 
another ; writing, talking, trying to persuade a set 
of Germans against their will, which is no very 
easy matter — in a word, one day went after an- 
other like so many hours. The King gave me 
very fair promises, and if he will only stand by 
them, I have carried my point ; but I very much 
fear the advice he has received since from his 
precious ministry is very little in my favour. To 
give them time to prepare the advice in question, 
I was coldly informed would take them two months 
or so, and they have kept their word. The first 
German that ever was hatched must have come 
out of a snail shell. You may naturally suppose 
I was not going to spend all that time here doing 
nothing but counting my fingers, so I determined 
to turn It to account by running through Switzer- 
land to Lyons, whither I ought to have gone long 
ago, but never could get it done. You may here 


very properly stop me, I own, by the question, 
but why did you not write to us before you started 
for Lyons? Ah! well, to be sure I might have 
done that; and in as far as I did not do it, and 
did omit doing so without any good and sufficient 
cause, I have only now to throw myself on your 
all merciful forgiveness. However, I do sincerely 
believe that what made me anxious to start with- 
out a day's delay at the time, was the information 
I had received from the Bishop of Mllwaukle, that 
the distribution of the Propagation of the Faith 
funds was to take place at Lyons In September, 
and It was the 13th of September before I could 
leave Munich. Eleven days of constant travelling, 
except two spent at Geneva, but very well filled 
up, took me to Lyons. There I really did intend 
to write to you, but there again I was rendered 
altogether useless for two or three days by the 
dreadfully bad weather ; and during the rest of 
the ten days I spent there, my time was taken 
up preparing a memorial for the Council of the 
Propagation of the Faith. I met these gentle- 
men at last, and addressed them for nearly three 
whole hours. I hope my time was not altogether 
lost. It was of the greatest Importance at the 
present moment to secure the continuation of the 
usual annual grants to Scotland, and which were 
In very great jeopardy from the sudden depression 


In the general funds because of the troubled state of 
France and of most of Europe. Should the times 
get better, however, I have every reason to believe 
we shall be more largely helped than before. I 
did not forget to plead the cause of George 
Square, but I regret to say that owing to the 
utter uncertainty of public events, the Board could 
not In common prudence undertake any new 
burdens this year. I left Lyons on the 3d of this 
month, while the cavalry was flying at full gallop 
through the streets to suppress an insurrection of 
the Gardes Mobiles, a set of harum-scarum brain- 
less young gentlemen, who had been kept quiet 
for half a twelvemonth by putting a military coat 
upon their back, but who on being disbanded had 
chosen to smash all the windows and furniture of 
their barracks (some few months before, the con- 
vent of the poor Sisters of the Sacred Heart, 
who had been expelled) and were now proceeding 
to besiege the prefecture, and had already made 
a prisoner of the chief magistrate himself. Vive 
la rdpubliquel 

On Sunday the 8th Inst. I preached In French 
at Geneva to Induce the Catholics of that Pro- 
testant Rome, as they call It, to set to and build a 
new church. The following days I spent partly 
at Annecy, where I went on a pilgrimage to the 
tombs of St. Francis of Sales and of St. Jane 


de Chantal. I had the happiness of saying Mass 
there on the loth. The next day I went to see 
that poor persecuted Bishop of Lausanne and 
Geneva, whom I find they have since expelled 
from Friburg— and the men who do this call them- 
selves Catholics ! Thank Providence, my dear 
children, that you are where you are. Had you 
witnessed the state of the Continent, as I have 
been doing for the last three months, you would 
fall upon your knees and thank Heaven from 
your inmost heart that to you has been given so 
peaceful a retreat at St. Margaret's ; had you been 
in the inside of the poor convent of Capuchin nuns 
which I visited along with the good old Bishop 
of St. Gall, and which really is Bethlehem in all 
its bareness, and heard these poor persecuted 
creatures sigh after a home of any kind in any 
country in which they could be allowed to exist 
in peace, you would be ashamed of the luxury 
of comfort that surrounds you in Edinburgh. I 
don't, of course, include the cholera, but that I 
trust will not come your way. Catholicism in 
Germany is in a very poor condition, and Switzer- 
land still worse. I have now ao^ain returned to 
Munich, as I find, quite in time for the rate at 
which German business habits travel, and am now 
in daily expectation of another audience from the 
King, when I trust something may be come to 



in the shape of a decision ; provided we are not 
again thrown here as everywhere else in Ger- 
many into some new revolutionary movement and 
confusion. In consequence of what is now going 
on at Vienna a hundred thousand men have 
been battering that unfortunate capital with grape 
shot since Thursday last — what the result may be, 
God only knows. Whatever way matters go, I 
own I am prepared for a desperate attempt on 
the part of the rebellious spirits of the Continent, 
so that it is a very probable case I may be obliged 
to return to England at very short warning. I 
trust, however, it may be otherwise. We had 
here the other day a row among the Beer Barrels. 
Beer to a Bavarian is the greatest enjoyment of 
life. He sits over it, he talks over it, he sings 
over it, smokes over it, snores over it, drinks it 
like a fish ; but when made to pay too dear for it, 
fights for it like a tiger. Private property was 
here for three hours last week at the complete 
mercy of the mob, the soldiers standing by and 
looking on — for they drink too. Two of the most 
remarkable persons I have had occasion to see 
since I have been in this country are in the 
Diocese of Ratisbon. I went with the Bishop to 
see them — one is a woman of about one or two 
and thirty, bedridden for several years past, and 
a very great, and apparently a very patient, suf- 


ferer. She bears the Stigmata very plainly marked. 
We found her lying in a garret room, with every- 
thing about her very poor, but very clean. It was 
on a Friday— and it seems that on Fridays she 
loses her voice and cannot speak above her breath. 
She seems during all that day to be absorbed in 
meditation on the Passion of our Blessed Lord. 
She assured us that there was nothing to fear for 
the Church from all the present disturbances, that 
there would be no war — in a word, that God had 
none but views of mercy for us all. If it really 
turns 02it so, I shall believe her to be a prophetess. 
Last year about Easter the famous Abbess of 
Minsk assured me that in two years from thence 
there would not be a Protestant left in England 
— may be so ; but in that case there is a great 
deal to do In the way of conversion before Easter 
next. The other person to whom I have alluded, 
whom I also went to visit in company with the 
Bishop of Ratisbon, is a young girl of thirteen — 
she likewise is bedridden, and has for the last 
two years taken neither mxeat nor drink of any 
kind — at least, in solid nourishment, for the last 
two twelvemonths, and no liquid for the last 
eighteen months. The Holy Communion is her 
only food. She is the daughter of very pious 
and simple peasants. We found her lying with 
her eyes bandaged, as she cannot well bear the 


light — the curtains of her bed were half-closed, 
and her head was resting on her right hand, with 
the rosary beads between her first finger and 
thumb. Her mother took off the bandaore that I 
might see her face ; she is a very pleasing look- 
ing child, and extremely simple in her manner. I 
felt her pulse — it was neither weak nor strong ; 
but her hands and her feet, which her mother 
uncovered, were as plump as those of a person in 
perfect health. She is carried every other Sunday 
or so to church, and it takes three women to carry 
her. She, too, suffers acutely on Fridays, and 
during all Lent till the morning of Easter Sunday, 
when all sufferinof leaves her and she becomes of a 
sudden gay and playful. The venerable Nicholas 
de Vanderflue, they say, lived eighteen years with- 
out eating or drinking. On the principle of ce nest 
que le premier pas qui coute, I can see no reason 
why a person who has continued to fast for two 
years shouldn't fast for two hundred. There are 
all kinds of prophecies going on the Continent just 
now, and there is a singular agreement in some of 
them. One says that the present King of Prussia is 
to be the last sovereign of that kingdom. It is odd 
enough that the other day his Diet declared that 
he should no longer reign ' by the grace of God.' 
Now, if he is only to reign by the grace of his 
Parliament, his reign may be short enough. But 


there Is another reason, in my view of things, apart 
altogether from prophecy, which numbers the days 
of the Prussian monarchy, it is the pure creation 
of Protestantism, and along with it, it must fall. 
Another prophetic saying, quite common through- 
out Germany for many a long year is, ' I would not 
be a fruiterer in 1847, nor a king in 1848, nor a 
soldier in 1849, nor a gravedlgger in 1850, but 
anything you like in 1851." The fruit was so 
abundant in Germany in 1847 that it brought 
nothing in the market. In Switzerland I found the 
same saying in other words — ' All the difficulties 
of Europe are to be settled between 1848 and 

" When the Bishop of Treves was in London at 
the opening of St. George's, he told us that two 
years ago one of his priests brought him an old 
book from his library, on the blank page of which 
was written, in a very old hand, a Latin sentence 
saying that In 1848 many kings and princes would 
cease to reign because of their incapacity to govern 
their kingdoms. And it Is curious enough that in 
running my eye over an old book on judicial astro- 
logy, which I got sight of here from the University 
Library, I found the following announcement, * In 
the year 1840, or thereabouts, the kings of Europe 
will begin to show their Incapacity to reign, and 
their kingdoms shall pass out of their hands.' The 


book was printed at Frankfort (which is now making 
mincemeat of all the princes of Germany) in 1665. 
We certainly live in very strange times, and stranger 
ones still are yet at hand, or I am much mistaken ; 
and yet here am I striving to set up a college in 
the midst of this political Babel, and in the very 
heart of it too. Really, I seem to have been des- 
tined to try my hand at odd doings, I was going to 
say from St. Margaret's downwards. But I will not 
say that, for I hope, my dear children, that St. 
Margaret's will also weather the storm that has be- 
set it for more than twelve years now in one way or 
another, and that there are days before us all, when 
we shall not regret the occasional blasts we may 
have suffered from, individually, from time to time, 
but rejoice in feeling our bark ride safe at last on 
a calm and friendly sea. In as far as I am con- 
cerned for the present, I am sure you will be glad 
to hear me say, that for some weeks past I am much 
better in health than I have been for very many 
months back. 

''All Saints. — To-day I have officiated pontifi- 
cally here in the Church of St. Louis, a very costly 
edifice built by the ex- King Louis; and this after- 
noon I have visited the great cemetery of Munich. 
It is really a very singular and beautiful sight. 
Every tomb is most tastefully decorated with crowns, 


garlands, and flowers of every sort and In wondrous 
profusion, and throughout the whole, thousands of 
coloured lamps are burning ; at the foot of each 
grave Is placed a holy water vat, many of a per- 
manent nature and of very elegant construction. 
The crowd is Immense, and every one is expected 
to sprinkle the grave of his relations or friends. 
There are large reservoirs of water In different 
parts of the ground, and they are all blessed for the 
purpose, so that there Is no lack of holy water. 
What a singular world this Is ! The crowds who lie 
buried In that cemetery once thronged Its walks on 
similar occasions, to deck the graves of previous gene- 
rations; to-day we look down upon theirs ; to-morrow, 
others will look down upon ours. How many 
who last week were full of life and spirit In Vienna 
who now are carried In cartloads to a common 
grave ! Vienna surrendered on Sunday, after sus- 
taining a most fearful bombardment of balls, shells, 
and Congreve rockets, that must have been pro- 
ductive of fearful loss of life. The town was, they 
say, on fire in many directions. God help the 
innocent ! As for the demons in human shape who 
have forced on this dreadful catastrophe, God In 
His mercy forgive them, but I hope they have 
been sufficiently punished to teach them to behave 
themselves a little better for the future. By far 
the most Important part of the business Is yet to 


come. Will the victors find out at last that there 
is no doing without religion, and that the Church 
must be freed from the shameful fetters it has 
worn in Austria for so many long years past ? If 
so, there Is yet hope. If not, the late siege is but 
the forerunner of still more fearful disasters. 

'' God bless you all, my dear Children in Christ, 
prays your most truly in our Lord, 

" *i* Jas. Gillis. 

" P.S. — I have not time to read over. The paper 
is so very bad here, and my eyesight is now, I fear, 
getting habitually so confused at night, that I doubt 
whether this epistle will be at all legible. As I 
write to you all, I need scarcely add, remember 
me most kindly to the whole Community, but let 
some one convey my best wishes and blessing to 
the children of both houses. I pray for them daily 
with all my heart, and I long to tell them some- 
thing of my adventures since we last parted. 

" Patrick and Mary ^ I still imagine most edify- 
ing in their respective departments, the one offer- 

1 Patrick Fegan, for many years the faithful gardener and valued 
friend of the Community. He only quitted St. Margaret's to assist 
his brother in the management of a small farm in Ireland. While 
hearing Mass he was struck by paralysis, and expired after a short 

Mary Keenan was the convent portress, and held that employment 
till the increased number of Sisters admitted the appointment of a 
member of the Community to take charge of the gate. 


ing up her rheumatisms for the sins of the house, 
and the other smiHng upon the daisies, or piously 
nodding assent to Mr. O'Donnell's moraHties. 
Everything kind to Mr. O'Donnell." 

On the return of Bishop GilHs in 1849, he turned 
his mind to the fulfilment of his ardent desire to 
erect a cathedral and a college on the ground pur- 
chased some years previously at Greenhill. He 
engaged Mr. Welby Pugin, the celebrated ecclesi- 
astical architect, to furnish designs, and to test the 
quality of the stone on the proposed site. 

The plans were exhibited to the public in 1850 
and were greatly admired. Want of funds to raise 
these costly structures obliged the Bishop to relin- 
quish the accomplishment of this undertaking. He 
received many fair promises of aid ; but as they 
were not substantiated, it was impossible to proceed 
with the work. It was objected that the situation 
was too far removed from the city to make the 
church practically useful. To this the Bishop re- 
plied, that the tendency to build on the south side 
of Edinburgh would soon bring the city out to 
Greenhill. The experience of the last twenty years 
has gone far to prove the correctness of his pre- 

At the Exhibition of Architectural Drawings in 


Edinburgh in 1881 the designs of Mr. Pugin for 
" St. Margaret's Cathedral " were much admired. 

Perhaps at some not very distant period the 
cherished hope of Dr. GilHs may be realised, and 
we may yet see a Catholic cathedral worthy of our 
holy faith and of the beautiful city of Edinburgh. 

( 136 ) 



We have repeatedly alluded to the zeal of Bishop 
GIllIs in promoting the beauty of Church cere- 
monial. He thus strove to enkindle in the hearts 
of his flock a more ardent love of our holy reli- 
gion, by rendering it attractive even to the out- 
ward senses ; while he deepened that love by 
directing it to rise from the seen to the unseen — 
from earth to heaven. 

Accustomed as he had been from youth to the 
magnificent ceremonies of the Church in Catholic 
countries, he endeavoured, as far as circumstances 
would permit, to carry out in Scotland the heart- 
stirring functions with which he had been so long 
familiar. In this he found a willing and able co- 
operator in Father O'Donnell, who, like the Bishop, 
claimed St. Sulpice as his Alma Mater, and having 
been trained in the same school, in nothing did 


he and the Bishop work more heartily together 
than In the celebration of the festivals as they 
came round. The approach of Corpus Christi 
inspired Father O'Donnell with the idea that a 
solemn procession of the Blessed Sacrament might 
take place in the convent grounds. He proposed 
it to Dr. Gillis, who eagerly adopted the sugges- 
tion, and spared no pains to render it imposing, 
to honour the God of the Holy Eucharist. 

This first procession of the Blessed Sacrament 
round the garden took place in 1850; the vener- 
able Bishop Carruthers himself officiated ; a large 
body of priests assembled, the *' Body Guard of 
the Hidden God;" and an immense crowd of 
people, who were admitted to the grounds by 
ticket. Dr. Gillis preached a magnificent sermon, 
and the emotion was indescribable as the proces- 
sion emerged from the chapel to wend its way 
round the garden. First came the cross-bearer 
and acolytes ; then the pupils of the schools dressed 
in white, with long muslin veils; then the Sisters, 
each group carrying an appropriate banner ; then 
the clergy. 

Behind the clergy walked Bishop Gillis, imme- 
diately in front of the canopy, under which Bishop 
Carruthers was bearing the Holy of Holies. The 
canopy was borne, as it has been ever since, by 
members of the Brotherhood of St. Vincent of Paul. 


All who witnessed that procession were struck 
by the appearance of the saintly Bishop, who re- 
minded them of the holy old man Simeon bearing 
the infant God in his arms ; he looked so venerable, 
and so rapt in devotion, as he proceeded round 
the grounds from one altar of repose to another. 
The effect produced was deep and lasting ; and 
to this day the spectators of that first procession 
remember the feelings of consolation with which 
they assisted at the solemn act of faith, reparation, 
and love offered to Him whose sacramental pre- 
sence had been long ignored in Scotland. 

The singing of the Litany of Loretto every 
Saturday evening in the convent chapel, was begun 
by Bishop Gillis after a visit to the Holy House 
at Loretto, where he made the promise, that in 
his convent in Scotland the nuns and children 
would pay that act of homage to our Lady, in 
union of prayer with those who sing it in the 
Holy House itself. This devotion had been car- 
ried on at St. Margaret's for more than thirty 
years before Lady Herries obtained from the Holy 
See the indulgence granted to those who assist 
at the Saturday evening Litany. 

The devotions of the Month of Mary were like- 
wise inaugurated here, and in 1853 was established 
a weekly procession of the Blessed Sacrament round 
the interior of the chapel, on the Thursdays in May. 


A visit from the ex-Queen of the French, Marie 
Amelie, and the Duchess of Orleans, caused a 
h'ttle excitement in the convent, when, on the 13th 
of July 185 1, a Requiem Mass was celebrated for 
the soul of the Duke of Orleans. The ex- Royal 
family were received by the Bishop with that 
gracious courtesy for which he was so remark- 
able ; and were conducted by him to the refectory, 
where the Sisters were assembled to meet them. 
The Queen spoke with the most unaffected piety 
of the nothingness of this world, and indeed her 
very appearance was a striking lesson of dignity 
and misfortune. Proceeding to the schoolroom, 
the party received a little address, which was read 
In French by one of the pupils ; the Queen after- 
wards sent a handsome brooch to the young lady 
who had read the address, and to the Community 
a magnificent set of the works of Bossuet, with a 
little inscription in the first volume written by her 
own hand. 

The conversion of the Dowager-Marchioness of 
Lothian, which took place in 185 1, was a subject 
of great thanksgiving to the Bishop. A very 
remarkable movement was going on at this period, 
and many converts were brought into the Church. 
Their names are in benediction for the good work 
they accomplished In their own sphere. 

Lady Lothian soon turned her thoughts to 


Scotland and its many necessities, and erected a 
church at Dalkeith, under the invocation of St. 
David. This formed the nucleus of smaller mis- 
sions, and after being In the hands of the secular 
clergy for some years, was Intrusted to the Jesuit 
Fathers, who continued to give their care to the 
outlying stations of Loanhead, Penicuick, &c., till 
these places had attained sufficient importance to 
be established as independent missions, each with 
its own parish priest. Lady Lothian also purchased 
a chapel and priest's house at Jedburgh. 

The Bishop's health now gave cause for anxiety, 
and put a limit to his exertions. In consequence 
of successive severe attacks of illness he put him- 
self under the care of Dr. Gully of Malvern, and 
underwent a course of hydropathic treatment. 
Dr. Gully declared that he was threatened with con- 
gestion of the brain, which. If not checked, would 
end in paralysis. After some weeks of medical 
treatment, considerable improvement was observed, 
and the Bishop returned to Edinburgh in January 
1852. On the 25th of March he laid the founda- 
tion-stone of a church at Leith. He was invited 
to preach the "Month of Mary" of this year in 
the French Chapel, London. These discourses, 
delivered in French, were much admired, and the 
chapel was filled to overflowing. Before the ter- 
mination of the course the fatal Illness of Bishop 


Carruthers obliged his coadjutor to return to Edin- 
burgh. On the homeward journey, owing to a 
collision on the railway near Newcastle, he sus- 
tained that injury to the spine from which he 
never recovered. Bishop Carruthers was dying 
of typhus fever. During his last days Mother 
Margaret Teresa visited him, and obtained his 
blessing for the Community at St. Margaret's. 
Dr. Gillis ordered prayers throughout the diocese, 
and the Blessed Sacrament was exposed in the 
convent chapel. During the last three years the 
Bishop had resided at Dundee, but notwithstanding 
his advanced age, he made frequent visits to Edin- 
burgh and other parts of the district. 

Fortified by the rites of the Church, and sur- 
rounded by his sorrowing clergy, this venerable 
and beloved prelate expired at St. Mary's, Edin- 
burgh, on the 24th of May, in the eighty-third 
year of his age, the fifty-eighth of his priesthood, 
and the twentieth of his episcopacy. The funeral 
service took place at St. Mary's Church. Dr. Gillis 
officiated. Bishop Murdoch and Bishop Smith of 
Glasgow were present, and a large number of 
priests. His remains were interred in the vault 
beneath the sanctuary of the church. The in- 
creased responsibility, and the many additional 
occupations which devolved upon Dr. Gillis at 
this time, left him no possibility of taking the care 


his health required, after the accident he had met 
with. He worked on with indefatigable energy, 
till in 1853 he was once more obliged to return 
to Malvern. His stay was short, and on his return 
to Scotland he provided for the spiritual wants of 
many of the smaller missions. Though unable 
to devote himself as heretofore to the Community 
at St. Margaret's, he usually said Mass in the 
convent chapel on Sunday mornings, and delivered 
a short discourse ; and on all great feast days 
officiated at Benediction, and preached on the 
festival that was being celebrated. 

The bill for the inspection of convents having 
been brought into Parliament by Mr. Chambers, 
Dr. Gillis went to London to unite in the efforts 
that were made to prevent its passing the House 
of Commons. It were needless to say with what 
anxiety this threatened piece of Protestant legisla- 
tion was watched by the whole Catholic population 
of Great Britain, nor how the best energies of 
both clergy and laity were directed against it. In 
all religious Communities constant prayers were 
offered that so great an evil might be averted. 
All these means had the desired effect. Thouo^h 
the bill was brought in for several successive 
sessions by Mr. Newdegate, it was at last treated 
with the derision and contempt it merited. 

The Definition of the Dogrma of the Immaculate 


Conception, 8th December 1854, gave occasion to 
the Bishop to issue a Pastoral, explanatory of the 
Doofma. He had been in France durinor the sum- 
mer of that year to try the waters of Ax, reputed 
to be efficacious for spinal affection ; deriving but 
little benefit he returned to Edinburgh, and was 
much disappointed at learning that the Holy Father 
had expected him to assist with the other prelates, 
assembled in Rome, at the grand function of the 
Definition. The Bishop availed himself of this 
occasion to instil an increased devotion to the 
Blessed Virgin in the hearts of his people. A 
solemn service of thanksgiving was held at St. 

At St. Margaret's the Thanksgiving Service took 
place on the 2d Feburary 1855. The holy sac- 
rifice was celebrated by the Bishop, who also de- 
livered a magnificent discourse. In the evening 
the convent was illuminated, and the Community 
and the pupils testified their joy by a solemn pro- 
cession in honour of Mary, ever Immaculate. 

( 144 ) 



Our readers may remember that the first Supe- 
rioress of St. Margaret's was the reverend Mother 
St. Hilaire, and that this lady had been obhged 
in conseqence of failing health to return to France 
in 1837. She was succeeded by the reverend 
Mother Mary Emily, another French religious, 
who, with the exception of a short interval when 
Sister St. Damian was nominated Superioress, 
governed the Community till 1855. Mother Mary 
Emily was a model of every religious virtue, and 
was much beloved by the Community and pupils. 
To the sorrow of her Sisters it was observed that 
her health, never robust, was giving way com- 
pletely. The Bishop sent her to Malvern to try 
the hydropathic treatment, along with Sister Jane 
Frances Macnab, and for a timxe a marked Improve- 
ment was the result. A severe winter, however. 


brought back the alarming symptoms, and this 
being made known to the superiors in France, an 
order was sent from Chavagnes enjoining Mother 
Mary Emily to return to the Mother House with 
the least possible delay. 

The blow was as unexpected as it was painful, 
not only to the Community of St. Margaret's, but 
to the reverend Mother herself, who was far from 
wishing to leave Scotland. The sacrifice, however 
great, had to be made. The reverend Mother, 
accompanied by two other French Sisters, bade 
a long farewell to St. Margaret's, leaving there 
only one of the original French colony. At the 
time of their departure Dr. Gillls was in Dublin. 
Two of the religious were also in that city, whither 
the Bishop had sent them some weeks previously, 
to become acquainted with the methods of educa- 
tion followed in the best schools there. These two 
Sisters resided at the Mother House of the Sisters 
of Mercy in Upper Baggot Street, where they were 
welcomed with the greatest hospitality. Letters 
of introduction from Dr. Gillis were passports to 
some of the principal convents in and about 
Dublin, and thus they became acquainted with 
Mrs. Ball, foundress of the Loretto Convent ; 
Mrs. Aikenhead, foundress of the Irish Sisters of 
Charity, and several distinguished religious of other 



Archbishop Cullen received the Sisters from St. 
Margaret's with fatherly kindness, and they were 
also affectionately received at the Sacred Heart 
Convent (then at Glasnevin) ; the Presentation 
Convent, George's Hill ; the Dominican Convent, 
Cabra, where the deaf and dumb school was a 
subject of great interest to them, and several other 
establishments. Indeed, nothing could exceed the 
warmth of the welcome the two travellers received 
in all the convents in Dublin, and of which they 
still retain a grateful remembrance. 

The news from home was, however, very dis- 
tressing to them ; and they hastened to complete 
their work and return to Edinburorh. On reach- 
ing Greenock they found Father O'Donnell, and 
Father Gordon (of Greenock) awaiting them. 
They were conducted to the Chapel House, and 
after partaking of refreshment, proceeded to Glas- 
gow, and thence to Edinburgh. The diminished 
Community at St. Margaret's were overjoyed to 
see them, and much had to be told on both 
sides. It was sad to see the vacant places, 
and many prayers were offered that the arrange- 
ments of the Community might be directed for 
the glory of God and the greater good of all 

The Bishop returned at the end of September, 
and shortly afterwards Mother Mary Angela Lang- 


dale was named Superioress, and Mother Margaret 
Teresa Clapperton, Assistant 

Several postulants joined the Community, and 
thus again their numbers were filled up. The 
work of the boarding-school and that for girls of 
the middle class at Lochrin House, went on pros- 
perously, and the new reverend Mother was fully 
occupied In training the young members of the 

On the 23d April 1856 a solemn Requiem 
Service was held at St. Mary's, for the repose of 
the souls of the soldiers who had fallen in the 
Crimean War. The church was prepared with 
decorations suitable to the occasion. On shields 
were displayed the names of the battles fought and 
won, the flags of the allied armies waved over 
them. The Russian flag below the others, claim- 
ing a prayer for her poor fallen soldiers — friends 
and enemies slept together In death on the batde- 
field, and were remembered together in the prayers 
of the Church. 

The Bishop Issued a Pastoral Letter on the 

An interesting visit was paid to the convent In 
1856 by the Duke and Duchess of Montpensier 
with their suite. The party assisted at Benedic- 
tion, and then visited the house and grounds. On 


taking leave, the Duke promised Dr. Gillls that on 
his return to Spain he would himself search the 
Escurial, to find, if possible, the relics of St. 
Margaret, which were believed to have long lain 

In 1857 the property of the convent was ex- 
tended by the purchase of the field which lies 
between the convent garden and the Grange Ceme- 
tery. Unfortunately a strip of ground adjoining the 
garden had already been purchased by Mr. David 
Murray, who built his dwelling-house on it, and 
laid out the rest as a garden, thus cutting off 
all access from the convent to the field beyond. 
However, it was a great matter to secure that 
field, as it preserved an open space, free from 
buildings on that side. The large portion of War- 
render Park was purchased by the religious at a 
later period. 

In the same year, 1857, Father O'Donnell was 
requested by the Bishop to reside permanently 
with him at Greenhill. This was an arrange- 
ment most suitable to all parties. For many years 
Father O'Donnell had been a zealous co-operator 
with the Bishop in all that regarded the spiritual 
and temporal welfare of the convent ; and no event 
of any importance occurred within its walls in 
which Father O'Donnell did not take a lively 


Having been recommended to try the waters of 
Vichy, Dr. GilHs went to that salubrious resort in 
the spring of this year, and while there he was 
requested by his old friend and college companion, 
Monseigneur Dupanloup, Bishop of Orleans, to 
visit his episcopal city, and to pronounce the 
panegyric on Joan of Arc, on the anniversary of 
the day on which this heroine achieved the deliver- 
ance of Orleans from the armies of England. 

It was not an easy task ; and the Bishop only 
consented to undertake it on condition that his 
flock in Edinburgh should benefit by his oration. 

In preparation for his discourse he visited Dom- 
remy, Chinon, Rouen, and other places immor- 
talised by '' La Pucelle," and thus possessed him- 
self of every point of interest in her wonderful 

The cathedral was crowded on the occasion, 
and the appreciation of the audience was mani- 
fested by their rapt attention to the orator, and 
their scarcely suppressed applause. The panegyric 
was magnificent in its power and eloquence. At 
Its close the Bishop of Orleans himself received 
the offerings of the congregation, for the purpose, 
so dear to the heart of Dr. Gillls, of enlarging 
and beautifying the recently acquired Church of 
St. Patrick In Edinburgh. 


In appreciation of the honour rendered to Joan 
of Arc and the city of Orleans, the mayor and 
munlcipaHty presented Dr. Gillis with the heart 
of King Henry II. of England, who died at the 
Castle of Chinon, on the Loire, in the year 1189. 

On the return of the Bishop to Edinburgh he 
turned his attention to the Improvement of the poor 
schools. The chapel In Lothian Street was con- 
verted Into two schools for girls. These were 
confided to the Sisters of Mercy established In Edin- 
burgh in 1858. The Bishop had long desired the 
aid of these religious for the visitation of the sick 
and the charge of the poor schools, and he Invited 
a colony from the house of the Order at Limerick 
(then governed by Mother Elizabeth Moore) to 
make a foundation In EdInburo:h. A house had 
been engaged as a temporary residence for them 
In Wharton Lane; and to provide for their com- 
fortable reception, Dr. Gillis enlisted the services 
of the religious of St. Margaret's. These were 
given all the more willingly, as one of the foun- 
dresses — Miss Helen Grant — had been the first 
pupil of St. Margaret's. She will long be re- 
membered and revered by all who knew and loved 
her as Mother Mary Juliana. 

The Sisters found their abode neatly arranged, 
and an oratory fitted up with furniture lent by St. 


Margaret's. Mother Margaret Teresa was there to 
welcome them to Scotland, and we may be sure 
that Mother Mary Juliana's affectionate heart re- 
joiced at seeing one of her old friends again. The 
most cordial Intercourse existed between the two 
Communities, whose superioresses had been friends 
from girlhood. 

The Sisters of Mercy continued to reside In 
their temporary abode in Wharton Lane till 1861. 
They then removed to the convent under the 
Invocation of St. Catherine of Siena, In Laurls- 
ton Gardens, which was erected by the munifi- 
cence of the late Mrs. Colonel Hutchison, so well 
and widely known by her holy life and extensive 

The Bishop took a lively interest in the pro- 
gress of the new establishment, and It was a great 
pleasure to him to see the two Communities of 
St. Margaret's and St. Catherine's, each in its 
own sphere, aiding the important work of educa- 

In 1859 he was able to carry out another long 
cherished design — the Introduction Into Scotland 
of the Fathers of the Society of Jesus, under whose 
care he placed the south-western portion of Edin- 

After occupying a temporary chapel in the 


Grassmarket, the Jesuit Fathers erected a spacious 
church In Lauriston Street. The church was 
solemnly opened in July i860, when High Mass 
was sung by the Very Rev. Thomas Seed (Pro- 
vincial), and the sermon was preached by the 

( ^53 ) 



The original building of St. Margaret's Convent 
having now become too small for the number of 
its inmates, a large addition was begun according 
to designs furnished by the late Mr. Edward Welby 
Pugin. The smallest detail in this building was 
a matter of importance in the Bishop's estimation. 
The new wing of the convent was destined for 
the accommodation of the young ladies' boarding- 
school, and Dr. Gillis considered It essential that 
everything In their abode should be In perfect 
proportion and good taste, though without any 
approach to luxury or extravagance. The founda- 
tion-stone was solemnly laid, November 1861, and 
the building progressed rapidly. The plans com- 
prised all that could be needed In a great monastery 
having a large number of inmates both religious 
and secular. The design formed a quadrangle 


that would cover a great part of the present garden. 
If these plans be ever carried out, the building 
will be magnificent, with a spacious cloister run- 
ning round the whole. But the finances of the 
Community would not admit of so costly an under- 
taking ; nor was it required as long as the old White- 
house was suffered to remain. Consequently only 
one side of the square has been built ; and it con- 
tains the dormitories, wardrobe, lavatories, refectory, 
and class-rooms in convenient proximity to one 

The time which passed during the erection of 
this building was a very busy one, and attended 
by much unavoidable inconvenience to the Sister- 
hood, which was, however, turned into matter for 
merriment by the younger members, and into merit 
by the elders. The Sisters of Mercy were ex- 
tremely kind in giving hospitality to those who were 
unable to find rooms at home, owing to the old 
house being in the hands of the builders who were 
connecting the two dwellings. The winter, too, 
was exceptionally severe, and for weeks during 
which the frost lasted all work had to be supended, 
and the sunk story of the new building was 
covered with a sheet of ice. 

It was in the spring of 1861 that the reverend 
Mother received a letter from Dr. Horan, Bishop 
of Kingston, Canada, announcing a visit to Edin- 


burgh, and of his intention of removing from our 
vaults the remains of his venerable predecessor, 
Bishop Macdonell. 

Dr. Gillis was then at Malvern, and wrote his 
orders that every possible attention should be paid 
to Dr. Horan, that he should take up his abode 
at Greenhill, and that all the necessary arrange- 
ments should be made about the removal of the 
coffin. A solemn dirge was to be celebrated for 
the repose of the saintly bishop — to which all the 
clergy, secular and regular, as well as the lay 
friends of the Community, were to be invited. 

Nothing could exceed the cordiality of Dr. 
Horan. He was delighted with the reception that 
was given him. He passed some hours with the 
Sisters, and spent an evening with the pupils, who 
exhibited '' tableaux vivants " for his Lordship's 

The Requiem Service took place on the 4th 
June. Dr. Horan sang the Mass, assisted by 
the Very Rev. Dr. Macpherson, V.G., the Rev. J. 
Darcy, and the Rev. Father Gascoigne, Father 
O'Donnell being Master of Ceremonies. 

Among the friends present on this occasion 
was Colonel Macdonell, a relative of the late 

All regretted the unavoidable absence of Dr. 
Gillis, but nothing was left undone to fulfil his 


kind and hospitable wishes towards the Bishop 
of Kingston, who expressed his sense of obhga- 
tion in a charming letter to the reverend Mother, 
and offered a stained-glass window in memory of 
his predecessor from his diocesans. 

It was not often that any of the Sisters left 
home, but the health of Mother Margaret Teresa 
requiring change of air, it was arranged that she 
should visit Chavagnes and remain in France for 
some weeks. Sister Mary Sales was appointed 
to be her travelling companion, and they set off 
on the 29th of July to London, thence to Paris, 
proceeding to Angers and Nantes (where they 
were warmly welcomed in the Houses of the 
Congregation), and at length reached Chavagnes, 
where the first familiar face that greeted them 
was that of Mother Mary Emily, in improved 
health, and now the Assistant-General at the 
Mother House. 

Only those who know how closely the bonds of 
religion knit hearts together can understand the 
joy that was experienced at this meeting. How 
much had to be told on both sides; how many 
questions were asked and answered, and how 
interesting were all the details given of old friends 
and familiar haunts. The two religious from St. 
Margaret's had a valuable opportunity of observing 
all the customs of the Mother House, and of obtain- 


ing full information on points requiring elucidation. 
They assisted at the Community retreat, on which 
occasion the inmates of the house numbered 500. 

At the close of the exercises the newly-appointed 
Bishop of Lu9on, Monseigneur Collet, paid his 
first visit to Chavagnes, and gave the habit and 
received the vows of a large number of aspirants. 
After a stay of six weeks the travellers proceeded 
southwards to Saintes, where they found other 
old friends, to La Rochelle, and again to Nantes, 
Ancenis, Angers, and Paris, on their way home. 
On arriving in London they went once more, 
and for the last time, to visit their old friends 
the Benedictine nuns at Hammersmith. That 
excellent Community shortly after removed to 
their present abode at Teignmouth, Devon. They 
returned home via Birmingham, where they were 
met by Dr. Gillis, who came from Malvern to 
see them. Amonof the memorable events of this 
visit was an interview with the Very Rev. Dr. 
Newman, who was kind enough to take them 
through his school at Edgbaston. 

Another visit was paid to the nuns at St. 
Mary's, York, with whom St. Margaret's had 
long been on affectionate terms by correspon- 
dence. The travellers arrived at home at the end 
of November, and were welcomed with delight by 
all at St. Margaret's. Many a recreative hour was 


agreeably spent in relating all they had seen and 

Dr. GIllIs began a visitation of his diocese in 
March 1862, but before he had ended it he was 
invited to proceed to Rome, to assist at the 
canonisation of the Japanese martyrs on Pentecost 
Sunday. He accomplished the journey, and was 
received in Rome with marked distinction. He 
explained to the authorities at Propaganda the 
state of his district, the progress religion had 
made, the difficulties under which he laboured, 
and the enfeebled state of his health, and again 
earnestly begged to be released from the burden 
which pressed so heavily upon him. This request 
was not granted. He was told to take the rest 
he required, and was promised the aid of a coad- 
jutor, but the appointment was postponed. 

The Community took advantage of the oppor- 
tunity afforded by the Bishop's journey to Rome 
to send an illuminated address to the Holy Father, 
expressive of their veneration for his person, and 
their devotedness to the Holy See, and begging 
the blessing of his Holiness for the Sisterhood and 
their pupils. The address was accompanied by a 
miniature copy of the Ecce Homo by Guercino 
(painted by Sister Agnes Xavier) in a costly 
frame. Dr. GIllIs presented the address and 
picture at his first audience with the Pope. The 


reverend Mother soon received a gracious and 
paternal answer from Plus IX., with the desired 
blessing, and kind expressions of encouragement 
to the work of the Community. 

Having made a stay of some weeks in the 
Eternal City, he proceeded to Spain, to prosecute 
a search for the relics of St. Margaret, Queen of 
Scotland. It had been a long cherished wish of the 
Bishop to secure this treasure for St. Margaret's 
Convent, and he obtained a brief from the Holy 
Father authorising him to remove the relics, if the 
Queen of Spain gave her consent. This project 
had been conceived so far back as the year 1847, 
when the Bishop had applied to Rome for the 
brief alluded to. Many difficulties presented them- 
selves. The royal family were at La Granja, 
and thither Dr. Glllis followed them to obtain an 
audience, and the decree requisite for instituting 
a search In the Escurlal, where the relics were 
believed to be enshrined. He was graciously 
received by the Queen Isabella II. and King 
Ferdinand, explained the purport of his journey 
to Spain, obtained the necessary document, and 
returned to the Escurlal. Unfortunately the Vice- 
President was laid up, In fever, and was unable 
even to look at the letter written by the Queen's 
order by Monseigneur Claret, her Majesty's con- 
fessor. Many delays and disappointments ensued. 


The Bishop ascertained that the rehcs in the 
Escurial had been much scattered during the 
Peninsular War, and considerable difficulty was 
experienced in prosecuting the search. Two old 
paintings (evidendy doors of a triptych) repre- 
senting St. Margaret and Malcolm III. of Scot- 
land were treasures the Bishop was most anxious 
to secure, but the authorities would not allow of 
their removal. He obtained, however, a large 
relic of the saint, together with the necessary 
authentications. During his stay on the Con- 
tinent he likewise visited Sens, where he was 
presented with valuable relics of St. Edmund, and 
of St. Thomas of Canterbury. In the cathedral 
at Sens there still exists an altar at which the 
saint said Mass, and Dr. Glllis obtained leave to 
have a part of the stone sawed off, to be incor- 
porated in the altar of a reliquary chapel at St. 
Margaret's, where he Intended depositing the relics 
he had collected. 

It cannot be expected that the regular routine 
of a convent school should aftbrd much matter for 
history. The days succeeded each other and 
multiplied Into weeks and months, all bringing 
their appointed round of duties, varied occasion- 
ally by a holiday or some extra amusement. The 
Bishop interested himself In the recreations of the 
children no less than in their studies, and looked 


upon the management of the former as little in- 
ferior in importance to the direction of the latter. 
How delighted he was to reward diligence by 
some unexpected pleasure ! and how anxious to 
procure for his little friends some joyful surprise ! 
One year when an unusual amount of distress 
was prevalent about Christmas, the children volun- 
teered to make the sacrifice of their Christmas- 
tree for the benefit of the poor. Their pocket- 
money was accordingly expended in charity. The 
reverend Mother mentioned this trait to the Bishop, 
who thoroughly appreciated it. Some days elapsed 
without any notice being taken, when the children 
were invited to an entertainment at which a 
splendid Christmas-tree was the event of the 
evening I If a dramatic performance or tableaux 
vivants were exhibited at the convent school, the 
kind Bishop was always present if possible, and 
knew how to encourage the young performers, 
and at the same time to elevate their taste, and 
draw useful lessons from the simplest source. 
These lines may meet the eye of those who will 
doubtless remember the happy evenings which 
enlivened their school-days — the wonderful per- 
formances of a celebrated conjuror engaged to 
exhibit his feats of legerdemain ; the harmonious 
strains of the Bearnais Singers ; and, still more 
delightful, when an invitation was given for the 


children to spend a summer afternoon at Green- 
hill, on which occasions they were allowed the per- 
fect freedom of the garden ; tea being enjoyed in 
the conservatory. The festivities concluded with 
singing some of the Bishop's favourite old Scotch 
airs, and then that "Praise the Lord," which is 
familiar to every child of St. Margaret's, and in 
which his own fine voice was always heard. If 
he loved to share in the innocent joys of the little 
ones of his flock, he no less sympathised in their 
sorrows, and in case of the sickness or death of 
any of their friends, he felt like a true father for 
the grief of his children, and omitted nothing that 
could be done to console them. 

Who can wonder at the love and veneration 
with which those who knew him best, regarded 
him during his life ; and still cherish his memory 
through the long years that have rolled by since 
he went to that home where we trust to meet him 
again ! 

During the summer of 1862 the convent chapel 
was much improved by the addition of stained 
glass windows, the gifts of kind friends; two de- 
serve special remembrance — one of these was pre- 
sented by the Earl of Denbigh in thanksgiving for 


his reception into the Church ; and the other by- 
Mr. Monteith of Carstairs, in thanksgiving for the 
conversion of Mrs. Monteith. An Interesting pre- 
sent was also made to the convent by Mr. Cor- 
ballis of Dublin, whose nieces had been educated 
at St. Margaret's. The gift consisted in a set of 
vestments that had belonged to the late Cardinal 
York. After his death these vestments came into 
the possession of the Abbe Taylor, great-uncle of 
Mr. Corballis, an ecclesiastic of some eminence in 
Rome, and were by him left to Mr. Corballis, who 
considered that a Scotch convent was the most 
fitting place for vestments that had been the pro- 
perty of a Scotch cardinal of the blood-royal. 

Many generous benefactors gave pecuniary aid 
towards the completion of the new buildings, and 
they have ever since had a share in the special 
prayers for benefactors, living or deceased, which 
are daily offered by the Community. The works 
proceeded, but it was not till the 25th March 
1863 that the house was solemnly blessed by the 

The Feast of the Annunciation being the chief 
festival of the Ursulines of Jesus, It was most fit- 
ting that the new convent should be opened on 
that day. The morning was happily occupied by 
three Masses, said by Father O'Donnell, the Rev. 


William Grady, and the Bishop. His Lordship's 
Mass was celebrated at 8*30, at which, according 
to the usual ceremonial of the day, the religious 
renewed their vows, and a choir postulant was 
admitted to take the habit. The Bishop preached 
on the occasion. In the afternoon his Lordship 
gave confirmation to a large number of pupils in 
the two schools, and to several converts. When 
the service was over the Bishop proceeded to 
bless the new house. A procession was formed 
headed by a cross-bearer, the pupils followed, then 
the religious, the clergy, and the Bishop. Several 
ladies and gentlemen were invited to follow, and 
among them were noticed Mrs. Colonel Hutchison, 
Colonel Macdonell, Mr. Angus Fletcher of Dunans. 

Leaving the chapel by the great door, the pro- 
cession crossed the garden to the new entrance 
and hall, thence along the cloister to the dormitory 
and Community room. Here the prayers were 
recited ; returning, the Bishop blessed the lava- 
tory, wardrobe, cells of the nuns, and finally the 
schoolroom, class-rooms, and refectory. All then 
returned to the chapel and thanked God for the 
happy completion of this great work. The Bishop 
declared this to have been one of the happiest days 
of his life. 

During the following Holy Week, the Bishop 


was sufficiently well to officiate at the ceremonies 
of the Church, even washing the feet of twelve 
poor men at St. Patrick's on Maundy Thursday. 
On Easter Sunday he sang High Mass and 
preached at St. Mary's, and in the evening preached 
and gave Benediction at the convent. 

( i66 ) 



In the middle of April 1863 the Bishop went to 
London to preach at the opening of the Italian 
Church in Hatton Garden, at the request of his 
old friend, Cardinal Wiseman. The Bishop urged 
many excuses, but the Cardinal would accept none, 
and Dr. Gillis made the exertion. He was so 
unwell that even at the last moment it was feared 
he would be unable to speak ; and It was but too 
evident that the effort was beyond his strength. 
Immediately afterwards he was laid up with a 
severe attack of jaundice, and it was several weeks 
before he could return home. He then gave con- 
firmation in several places, where It was due, but 
during the summer was able for very little exertion 
of any kind. Even the convent chapel found his 
place filled by another on the great festivals, which he 
had delighted to celebrate with his beloved children. 
When his suffering state permitted him to leave 
the house he came to St. Margaret's and interested 


himself in the progress of the children, the arrange- 
ments of the new buildings, or the placing of stained 
glass windows, presented by friends, in the chapel. 
He seldom came empty handed — often bringing 
objects of Interest for the museum, books or en- 
gravings for the school or drawing-class. 

He was rarely able to say Mass, and his state 
was the cause of great anxiety to all around him. 
His increased sufferings now often prostrated him 
completely, and feeling it impossible to fulfil the 
duties of his office he petitioned the Holy See for 
the aid of a coadjutor. 

On the 15th October the Bishop met at St. 
Margaret's his old friend Colonel Macdonell, who 
was about to leave Edinburgh for Wardour Castle, 
there to end his days, but who wished to pay a 
farewell visit to St. Margaret's. Dr. Gillis took 
him over the new house, and when the old man 
of eighty-four knelt to receive the Bishop's blessing, 
both felt that they should never meet again In this 

Two days later the Bishop went for a few weeks 
to Dumfriesshire, to stay with his old friend, Miss 
LIdderdale, and thence went to Morpeth, where he 
made a retreat under the direction of Father Lowe, 
O.S.B. He was very ill while at Morpeth, and 
was therefore detained much longer than he ex- 
pected, only returning home on the nth December. 


On the 13th, the third Sunday of Advent, he 
said his last Mass at St. Margaret's. He break- 
fasted and spent the forenoon there, visiting two of 
the Sisters who were sick, andjarranging matters 
of business with the reverend Mother. Next day 
he was very unwell and consented to send for Dr. 
Warburton Begbie, who attended him with the 
utmost devotedness during the few weeks which 
elapsed till his death. The Christmas festivals 
were saddened by his absence and the knowledge 
of his suffering state. Many friends called and 
sent to Inquire after him, and prayers were offered 
for his recovery. He was most carefully nursed 
and watched by the religious of St. Margaret's, 
Father O'Donnell, and his faithful servants. Now 
and then a change for the better gave a gleam of 
hope, but this soon vanished. 

He sent to the convent many of his valuables, 
and gave directions as to their destination. On the 
evening of the 2 2d of February 1864, the Bishop 
was taken with a violent attack of Illness. Dr. 
Begbie was sent for, and came immediately, and 
his prescription took effect for a moment. A bad 
night, however, brought back the unfavourable 
symptoms, and he was pronounced to be in danger. 
In the afternoon of that day, 23d February, he was 
seized with vomiting of blood. On learning the 
doctor's opinion, he said, '' Send for Father Lowe." 


A telegram was instantly despatched, and also one 
to the Very Rev. Archibald Macdonald, the Vicar- 
General. In the presence of Father O'Donnell, 
and some of his devoted children, the religious of 
St. Margaret's, he received the last solemn rites 
of the Church at the hands of Father Lowe, with 
full consciousness. He had a very suffering night, 
and at five in the morning had another fit of vomit- 
ing blood, after which he fell into a comatose state 
and did not speak again. His last words were the 
echo of his whole life, ** Lord, I have loved the 
beauty of Thy house, and the place where Thy 
glory dwelleth." 

Who could describe that last day of his life ? 
He was speechless and motionless, while those 
whom he had loved best were kneeling and pray- 
ing round his deathbed. Father O'Donnell exposed 
the Blessed Sacrament at St. Margaret's, and cease- 
less prayers were offered for him there. Messengers 
had been sent to the churches in town to inform 
the clergy that their Bishop was passing away, and 
they came to Greenhill to unite in prayer for him. 
No sound save the voice of prayer and the laboured 
breathing of the dying man was heard throughout 
the day, till at a quarter to 3 p.m. the precious soul 
departed to hear the words so longed for, "Well 
done, good and faithful servant." 

The sacred remains were arranged in full pon- 


tificals ; all trace of suffering passed away, and 
the expression of perfect peace stamped on the 
features of the Bishop seemed to assure those 
who knelt beside his bier that he had Indeed 
entered Into the joy of the Lord. The clergy, the 
religious from St. Margaret's, Sisters of Mercy, 
Little Sisters of the Poor, and many old friends, 
watched by the body till the coffin was closed, and 
the beloved face hidden from sight. 

On the morning of the 27th (Saturday), the coffin 
was brought to the convent chapel and placed on 
a catafalque In the choir. After the early Masses, 
said by Father O'Donnell and Father Lowe, the 
Very Rev. A. Macdonald officiated at a solemn 
dirge. The clergy recited the Office for the Dead, 
and Mass was then sung for the departed. 

During the two following days the convent chapel 
was crowded by persons from the town, who came to 
pray beside the coffin. On the evening of the 29th 
it was conveyed to St. Mary's, Broughton Street, 
and on the following day the solemn obsequies 
took place. The Right Rev. Dr. Murdoch, Bishop 
of the Western District, officiated pontifically, 
assisted by the Rev. Dr. Macpherson as deacon, and 
the Rev. A. Gordon as sub-deacon, the Very Rev. 
A. Macdonald acting as assistant priest. The Right 
Rev. Dr. Gray, coadjutor of the Western District, 
was also present. Nearly all the clergy of the 


Eastern District were assembled round the bier of 
their departed Bishop, and the church was crowded 
by a devout and sorrowing congregation. 

The church was beautifully arranged, and the 
whole service conducted with the most imposing 
solemnity. At the conclusion of the Mass, the 
funeral oration was delivered by the Rev. Ignatius 
Grant, S.J., from the words, " Though he is dead, 
he yet speaketh." 

The crowd which filled the space in front of 
the church, and all along the route of the pro- 
cession, was immense, and the behaviour of the 
vast multitude testified to the respect In which 
Bishop Gillls was held by men of all creeds. His 
last resting-place was to be his well-beloved con- 
vent of St. Margaret's, and thither the long funeral 
procession now wended its way, passing for the 
last time his own door. The religious of St. 
Margaret's and the Sisters of Mercy, with the 
pupils of both houses, awaited the arrival of the 
cortege within the convent gates, and accom- 
panied the body to the vaults beneath the chapel, 
where the last prayers of the funeral service were 
chanted by the Very Rev. A. Macdonald. 

His remains rest beneath the altar which he 
raised to the glory of God, the altar at which he 
said his last Mass, and on which the Holy Sacrifice 
Is so frequently offered for the repose of his soul. 


Of Dr. Gillls we may well say, in the words of 
England's greatest poet, ''He was a man, take 
him for all In all, we shall not look upon his like 


It has not been within the scope of these pages 
to ofive more than the merest sketch of his life 
and works, still less could we attempt to fill in the 
outline by details of his character and virtues. To 
the outside world he was known as a man of 
brilliant talents, matchless eloquence, and great 
zeal for the glory of God and the advancement 
of the Holy Church. To those who were privi- 
leged to be admitted to his more intimate friend- 
ship, he was known and loved as a man of deep 
and tender piety, charitable to the poor, humble 
and patient in suffering, merciful to the erring, 
a lover of little children, who were instinctively 
attracted towards him, and one ever ready to aid 
by word or deed where his assistance could avail. 

That he was highly appreciated by his contem- 
poraries was abundantly proved by the letters 
addressed to the Community of St. Margaret's 
by many who had been personal friends of the 
late Bishop. 

The following letter from Cardinal Wiseman 
to Sister Agnes Xavier cannot fail to interest our 
readers : — 


*' Dear Sister in Christ, — I have been pre- 
vented from writing more than was absolutely- 
necessary by inflamed eyes, not even yet re- 
covered. On the third day after your good and 
holy Bishop's death I was able to say the special 
Mass appointed by the Church for that day, and 
I have ever since continued my memento, when 
able to celebrate. 

'* God, I trust, has heard our prayers for him, 
and received him to His sweet embrace ; for he 
must have had much of his purgatory here. You 
must naturally feel like orphans, and endure all 
the desolation of a fatherless household. But God 
will be your Father, and your late kind parent and 
founder will not resign his post to any on earth 
now that he is near the Fountain of Grace and 
the Source of Paternity. 

'' I will not forget to pray for you ; for I loved 
him more than any one else in the same condi- 
tion and relation with me in the Church. We felt 
much in common, and thought, I believe, always the 
same, on all that concerns the Church. 

"In return, therefore, I beg your prayers for 
myself, while I send your Community my affec- 
tionate blessing. — Yours very sincerely in Christ, 

" N. Card. Wiseman. 
"London, March 15, 1864." 

( 174 ) 



The period which followed the Bishop's death 
was naturally a very sorrowful time at St. Mar- 

According to the testamentary disposition of Dr. 
Gillls, Greenhlll Cottage was sold and the chief 
part of the furniture taken to the convent, where 
It was placed chiefly in the new part of the house 
occupied by the pupils. 

The district was administered by the Very Rev. 
Archibald Macdonald while awaiting the nomina- 
tion of a bishop. Father O'Donnell was appointed 
by the administrator Ecclesiastical Superior of St. 
Margaret's Convent. 

During the summer Mother Margaret Teresa 
was elected Superioress in place of Mother Mary 
Angela, whose term of office had expired. 

Many fervent prayers were offered by the reli- 
gious for a blessing on the successor of Dr. Gillls. 


Immediately after the Bishop's funeral the Rev. 
Mr. Strain went to Rome, and several months of 
suspense were passed. At length, on the 9th of 
September 1865, Father O'Donnell announced to 
the Community that Dr. Strain had been nomi- 
nated Bishop of Ablla and Vicar-Apostolic of the 
Eastern District of Scotland. The Holy Father, 
Pius IX., himself consecrated the new bishop on 
the 25th September, and on the 7th of November 
he arrived in Edinburgh. He paid his first epis- 
copal visit to St. Margaret's on the loth, accom- 
panied by the Very Rev. A. Macdonald, the Rev. 
George Rigg (now Bishop of Dunkeld), and the 
Rev. Robert Clapperton. The Community were 
assembled in the Community room to welcome 
the Bishop and receive his blessing. He then 
visited the new dormitory and cells, and proceeded 
to the schoolroom, where he spent a short time 
with the children. On leaving them he went to 
the chapel, and finally to the crypt, where he 
prayed beside the remains of his venerable pre- 

On the 15th his Lordship celebrated Mass in the 
convent chapel. At the conclusion of the holy 
sacrifice he addressed a few words to the Com- 
munity, and imparted to them the Papal Benedic- 
tion. In the evening of the same day Dr. Strain 
administered Confirmation to some of the pupils. 


The Community were desirous of showing every 
mark of respect and regard to their new bishop. 
They did not forget that it was he who had 
said the first Mass for the Htde colony in their 
temporary abode at Argyle Park ; and on many 
subsequent occasions he had manifested his kindly 
feelings towards St. Margaret's. Besides, they 
knew him to be the one appointed by God to be 
their Bishop and Superior ; the one to whom 
henceforth, under God, they were to look for 
guidance in doubt, for support in difficulties, and 
for consolation in sorrow. Well might they pray 
that all graces might be given to him in his epis- 
copal career. 

It was with great pleasure that the Sisters offered 
Dr. Strain a case of church plate and a beautiful 
alb and rochet, on the occasion of his arrival in 
Edinburgh, and as a slight testimony of their 
dutiful sentiments towards himself. 

The year 1865 was somewhat memorable. 

Towards the close of 1864 the sanction of the 
Secretary of State was obtained for the admission 
of religious into the General Prison for Scotland 
at Perth, with a view to improving the moral 
condition of the Catholic female convicts confined 
in that institution, and of instructing them in their 

On the 2d of January 1865 the Bishop, accom- 



panied by the Rev. George Rigg called at St. 
Margaret's, and proposed to the Reverend Mother 
that the Community should undertake this work at 
the prison of Perth. No one knew better than Mr. 
RIgg how greatly the poor convicts were in need 
of Instruction, for he had been In charge of the 
Perth Mission for several years, and it was owing 
to his Intervention that the aforesaid permission 
of Government had been obtained. Though no 
longer at Perth he was still greatly interested in 
the mission, and the Rev. Dr. Macpherson, who 
had succeeded him, was equally anxious to secure 
the services of nuns, not only for the prison, but 
also for the Catholic schools. 

Visiting prisons was a new kind of work to 
the Sisters ; but they considered that It fell within 
the scope of their Institute, as being devoted to 
teaching women of all classes ; they therefore gladly 
acceded to the proposal, and before the end of 
January the Reverend Mother and Mother Mary 
Angela went to Perth to look at the house which 
was offered to them as a residence. 

Ultimately, however, Dr. Macpherson deter- 
mined to purchase Stormont House, which is in 
every respect suitable for a convent, containing 
ample accommodation for a small Community, and 
being situated in a large garden which is sur- 
rounded by a high wall. Entry could not be 



obtained before May, but the interval was busily 
employed in the necessary preparations for the 
new establishment. As yet the Sisters had no 
experience in teaching schools under Government ; 
it was therefore essential that they should be duly 
qualified and certificated to act as mistresses of 
the Perth schools, which had hitherto been in 
charge of secular teachers. 

The Sisters who were destined to this occupation 
prepared to pass the necessary examination, for 
which purpose they went to Liverpool. On the 
1 6th of May, Mother Mary Angela and her little 
colony (six in all) took up their abode in their 
new home, which was placed under the patronage 
of St. Joseph. 

The arrangement of an oratory was their first 
care, and it was with great joy that they welcomed 
the hidden God to their dwelling. The rest of 
the apartments were soon ready; and the Sisters 
entered on their duties at the Penitentiary on 
the ist of June. From that day to the present 
time they have spent daily several hours instruct- 
ing the poor prisoners. On Sunday afternoons 
they likewise attend to conduct devotions for the 
''associated convicts." In general they have had 
the happiness of seeing a great blessing follow their 
labours ; and it is only justice to testify to the 
respect and consideration with which the Sisters 


have Invariably been treated by the authorities 
of the prison. 

One thing is felt to be an imperative necessity 
for the discharged prisoners. It Is, that a safe 
home should be provided for them, where at the 
end of their term of punishment they may remain 
till such time as they are suited with some occu- 
pation. All who interest themselves In prisoners 
must be aware how frequently it happens that, on 
leaving the gaol, the poor uncaged birds fall into 
the snares laid for them by evil companions, and 
probably within a few weeks, or less, find them- 
selves again within the prison walls for a longer 
period than the first time. 

If any charitably disposed person would assist 
in the establishment of such a refuge as is sug- 
gested, it would indeed be a boon to the many 
poor Catholic girls and women who leave the 
prison at Perth only to return to the evil surround- 
ings of their former homes. 

The little Community at St. Joseph's soon found 
themselves with as much work as they could accom- 
plish. The schools have prospered under their 
care. The visitation of the poor and sick Is always 
one of their consoling duties ; and Mother Mary 
Angela was indefatigable in her exertions for the 
good of all who came under her influence. 

The Sodality of the Children of Mary was 



established for the young women of the congre- 
gation, the Living Rosary, the Guild of the Sacred 
Heart and Holy Family were likewise set on foot. 

The Sisters have invariably met with the greatest 
kindness from the priest in charge of the mission, 
and it has been their constant endeavour to assist 
him as far as they could do so, and under his 

Since the re-establishment of the hierarchy the 
Right Rev. Dr. George Rigg, Bishop of Dun- 
keld, has made Perth his residence, and in him the 
relimous have found a father and friend, to whom 
they owe a lasting debt of respectful affection and 

Since the sale of Greenhill Cottage, Father 
O'Donnell had resided in temporary apartments 
at St. Margaret's ; but he had taken steps towards 
the erection of a suitable residence for a chaplain 
in the convent grounds. This was completed in 
August 1865, and on the 31st of that month Father 
O'Donnell took possession of his new house, known 
as '' the Hermitaofe." 

On the 29th of June, Mrs. Hutchison (who has 
been so often mentioned as a signal benefactress) 
breathed her last, and went to receive the recom- 
pense of her long life of fervour and charity. She 
was interred within the grounds of St. Catherine's 


The Exaltation of the Cross (14th September) 
was a distressing and memorable day at St. Mar- 
garet's. On entering the chapel in the morning 
a sad sight presented itself to the Sisters. It was 
evident that a sacrilegious robbery had been com- 
mitted during the night. The tabernacle was on 
the ground behind the altar, the door wrenched 
off, and the Blessed Sacrament lying within, hav- 
ing been thrown out of the ciborlum, which was 
gone ; as also the lunette containing the Sacred 
Host. Two relics of the True Cross were also 
missing, one of which was exposed for veneration 
in honour of the Feast, and the other had been 
at the foot of the crucifix on the Sacred Heart 
altar, the small tabernacle on which had also been 
broken open but was fortunately empty. 

Father O'Donnell was instantly summoned, and 
collected the scattered Hosts into a ciborlum, which 
he deposited in a safe in the sacristy. Mass was 
said at the Lady Altar, and many acts of repara- 
tion were offered by the sorrowing Sisters. No 
time was lost in communicating with the police 
authorities. Detective officers attended imme- 
diately, took a list and description of the missing 
articles, and examined the traces left by the thieves. 
They had entered the chapel by a window, the 
lower part of which was broken. There were foot- 
prints on the floor, and matches were found exactly 


under the sanctuary lamp. It was matter of wonder 
that it had not been carried off. 

The Community and pupils kept up perpetual 
adoration all day and night, to make what repara- 
tion they could for the outrage to the most Blessed 
Sacrament. The Bishop and several of the clergy 
called to offer sympathy, and his Lordship ordered 
three days of exposition as a reparation of honour. 

The Bishop celebrated Mass on Sunday the i6th 
and inauorurated the devotions. Durinof the three 
days the chapel was visited by many persons from 
town, who came to unite their loving homage to the 
Adorable Sacrament with the prayers of the Com- 
munity. The Triduum ended with a solemn Pro- 
cession and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. 

None of the stolen articles were ever restored, 
nor was any trace found of the thieves. But years 
afterwards, Father Holder, then parish priest at 
Perth, told the Sisters at St. Joseph's Convent, 
that he had been charged with a message to them 
from a prisoner then undergoing a sentence of 
punishment for a robbery. The unhappy man re- 
quested Father Holder to express to the nuns his 
regret that he had been one of the party who 
broke into the convent chapel so long ago. He 
had often wished to ask their forgiveness, but could 
not summon courage to call at St. Margaret's, but 
now he begged the priest to do so for him. It 


was consoling to know that the poor fellow re- 
pented of his misdeeds, and that he had put him- 
self into the hands of the priest to be reconciled 
with God. Many prayers had been offered for 
the conversion of those who had perpetrated the 
crime, and now all rejoiced over the sinner who 
had obtained the grace of contrition. 

The sisterly feeling which exists between the 
religious Communities of St. Margaret's and St. 
Catherine's has always been specially manifested on 
remarkable occasions either of joy or sorrow. The 
deepest sympathy, therefore, was felt for the Sisters 
of Mercy, at the death of the Reverend Mother 
Mary Juliana, which took place on the 5th of June 
1867. She had been a ''Child of St. Margaret's," 
and was closely linked to her first convent home 
by many fond associations, and her memory is 
still cherished there, no less than in her own 

In the following month of August the Sisters 
of St. Marcraret's also mourned the death of Sr. 
Jane Frances Macnab, who had been for many 
years in a very delicate state of health. She had 
been a most active and efficient member of the 
little Community at Milton House ; and had been 
lonor in charo^e of the school at Pentland House 
and George Square. She was much regretted ; 
but her sufferlns: state had been most distressing 


for a long time past, and her sorrowing Sisters 
trusted that her crown in heaven would be pro- 
portioned to the heavy cross she had borne so 
patiently on earth. 

The whole Catholic world was united in prayer 
for the Church towards the end of the year 1869. 
On the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, the 
Vatican Council was opened at Rome, and this 
great event called together nearly all the bishops 
in the world. So large an assembly of ecclesias- 
tical dignitaries had never met before, and while 
the deliberations of the Council proceeded, ceaseless 
supplications were offered for the Holy Father, 
Pius IX., and for the Fathers of the Council. 

Dr. Strain, and Dr. Macdonald of Aberdeen, left 
Edinburgh on the evening of the i8th November, 
having paid a farewell visit to St. Margaret's in 
the forenoon of that day. 

When the Definition of the Papal Infallibility 
was announced, great rejoicings took place, in 
which all the faithful children of the Church took 
their part. 

Many bishops then hastened to leave Rome, 
owing to the political disturbances, long threatened, 
and now close at hand ; and also to escape from 
the intense heat of the season. 

On the 30th July 1870, Dr. Strain arrived in 
Edinburgh, and kindly came to St. Maro-aret's in 


the afternoon of that day. He said Mass at the 
convent next morning, and breakfasted with the 
Community, spending the forenoon with the Sisters 
and children, giving interesting details of his stay 
in Rome, and of the magnificent service in St. 
Peter's after the Definition of the Council. 

Among all the Important duties of the last few 
months, the Bishop had not forgotten his flock at 
the convent. He brought a souvenir for every 
one ; and to the children at St. Margaret's, rosaries 
blessed by the Holy Father. 

It had long been a subject of regret to the Com- 
munity that there was no likeness of Dr. Gillls, 
excepting two miniatures, painted many years ago 
by Sister Agnes Xavier, and, latterly, some pho- 
tographs. It was determined to have a life-sized 
portrait, painted by a first-rate artist, from these 
small likenesses. Inquiries were made to find a 
painter who would undertake the work ; and the 
celebrated Sam Bough was introduced to the 
reverend Mother as the one most likely to succeed 
in this not very easy task. Mr. Bough was a great 
admirer of Dr. Gillls, and had frequently attended 
his sermons at St. Mary's. He had, therefore, the 
aid of memory to further his work. The portrait 
was brought to St. Margaret's as soon as it was 
finished, and was placed in the Refectory. Though 
not absolutely perfect, it Is still a wonderfully good 


likeness, considering the difficulties under which 
the artist laboured, and the Community rejoice In 
possessing It. The following year It was exhibited 
In Dublin at the exhibition of paintings in that 
city, the reverend Mother acceding to Mr. Bough's 
request on that subject. 

The addition to the convent was carried out 
during the year 1870. A new laundry was erected 
adjoining the Hermitage, and this permitted 
the arrangement of the old laundry buildings 
(close to the entrance gate) as apartments for 
a few lady boarders. These rooms have been 
constantly in use ever since they were opened In 
January 1871. 

( i87 


MARYFIELD. 1871-1875. 

Nothing is stable in this world. This is a truth 
which we all know in theory ; nevertheless, when 
some great change comes over our life, it would 
seem as if we had never realised that we live in a 
world of change, and that we must all the more 
cast the anchor of our hope on that shore which 
is eternal. 

A great trial was about to fall on St. Margaret's 
— the greatest, after the death of Bishop Gillis, that 
could have befallen the Community. It was all 
the more keenly felt because it was wholly un- 

On the 2 1 St April 1871 Dr. Strain called on 
Father O'Donnell at the Hermitage. His Lord- 
ship then went to the school- room to show the 
children the medal of the Vatican Council, and 
after visiting the lady boarders, he left. How little 


did the Community suspect the purport of his 
visit! In the afternoon Father O'Donnell sent 
word to the Reverend Mother that he wished to 
see her and the senior Sisters at five o'clock, and 
would then give Benediction. The worst was 
soon told. Father O'Donnell was to leave St. 
Margaret's, having been appointed by the Bishop 
to take charge of the mission of Falkirk, in place 
of the Rev. John Gillon, lately deceased. 

After Benediction the Community were apprised 
of the Bishop's decree. Father O'Donnell an- 
nounced his removal, and then added, " and I 
leave you to-morrow." He went on to exhort the 
Community to accept the will of God with perfect 

The following day was indeed a sad one. For 
five and twenty years Father O'Donnell had been 
intimately connected with the convent. In joy 
and in sorrow he was always at hand to console 
and sympathise, to assist and encourage. He had 
worked hand in hand with Dr. Gillis for the welfare 
of the establishment, and there was no one in the 
house, from the superioress to the youngest child 
in the school, who had not experienced his interest 
and solicitude. 

Father Walmesley, S.J., called that forenoon, 
little thinking what had happened. When he was 
told that Father O'Donnell was going to Falkirk, 


he exclaimed, " I should as soon have expected 
to see the large ash-tree in the court removed from 
its place." 

The sad farewells were said at last. As the 
devoted Feather and friend of St. Margaret's crossed 
the threshold he said, ''God's will be done ! God 
bless you all ! " The Sisters all retired to the 
chapel to pray for the grace to make their sacrifice 
generously, and that every blessing might attend 
Father O'Donnell in his new career. 

For many weeks nothing was settled as to a 
successor to Father O'Donnell, and the Sisters 
would have had many spiritual privations had it 
not been for the Immense kindness of the clergy 
attached to St. Patrick's, and to the Jesuit Fathers 
at Laurlston. 

Father O'Donnell, though chaplain to the con- 
vent, did a great deal In town, and always had a 
confessional at St. Patrick's, which he regularly 
attended. Regret at his removal from Edinburgh 
was not therefore confined within the convent walls. 
The congregation of St. Patrick's resolved on pre- 
sentlncr him with a handsome testimonial as a 
tribute of reo^ard and esteem. 

The clero^y all called at the convent, offerine to 
do what lay In their power to give the Sisters 
Mass and Benediction regularly till some per- 
manent arrangement should be made by Dr. 


Strain. It is a pleasing duty to give expression 
to the gratitude which will ever be felt at St. 
Margaret's to the reverend Fathers who so kindly 
came forward to supply the spiritual necessities of 
the Community at this time of sorrow and sus- 
pense. The names of Father Hannan, Father 
William Turner, Father Byrne, and Father Healy, 
of St. Patrick's ; and of Fathers Walmesley, Clif- 
ford, and Pearson, S.J., of Lauriston, will ever be 
remembered in the prayers of the Sisters. 

Father O'Donnell was oblicred to come over 
from Falkirk to attend to the removal of his books 
and other effects, but his visits were always short. 
At length it w^as arranged that Colonel and Mrs. 
Gordon (old friends) should reside with him at 
Falkirk, and this being carried out, proved to be 
most suitable for all parties. 

Towards the end of May the Bishop announced 
that he had appointed a chaplain to the convent, 
who would arrive the following day. The chap- 
lain's rooms at the Hermitage were accordingly 
prepared, and the Bishop came out on the 26th 
May with a Dutch priest, whom he introduced as 
the Rev. Mr. Berentzen. At the same time the 
Bishop requested Father Walmesley to act as 
confessor to the Sisters, which he kindly con- 
sented to do. 

On the 3d of August, Sister Mary Gertrude 


Burn, who had long been III of lingerhig consump- 
tion, breathed her last. As Father O'Donnell was 
one of her trustees, he was summoned by telegraph, 
and came over in the afternoon. 

Shortly after his arrival, a carriage drove up 
to the door, and a gentleman Inquired if visitors 
were permitted to see the convent. The portress 
asked their names, and was told " the Emperor 
and Empress of Brazil," with two ladies and a 
gentleman-in-walting. Of course so Illustrious a 
party could not be refused admission, and they were 
taken to the parlour, where the Reverend Mother, 
the Mother- Assistant, and Father O'Donnell went 
to pay their respects. It was explained that the 
Imperial party had been driving In the neighbour- 
hood, and had noticed the convent and asked 
what bulldlne it was. On belngf told it was a 
convent, the Emperor exclaimed, " I cannot pass 
a Catholic convent in this Protestant country." 
Their Majesties visited the chapel and house, and 
were most affable In their manner to the Sisters 
and children. They were particularly interested 
to learn that Father O'Donnell was a native of 
the Island of St. Helena, and that he distinctly 
remembered the funeral of the Emperor Napoleon. 

Their Majesties appeared much pleased with 
their visit, which was duly noticed In the papers 
next day. 


The Cono-reo:atlon of the Ursullnes of Jesus at 
the Mother-House had now the joy of receiving 
documents from Rome, announcing that the holy 
founder of the Congregation, the Abbe Louis 
Marie Baudouin had been declared ''Venerable." 
The Community at St. Margaret's were informed 
of this event, and united their rejoicings with 
those of their Sisters in France. 

On the 2d July 1872 the Community were again 
without a chaplain. The Rev. Mr. Berentzen, 
being in bad health, gave up his appointment, and 
left for Rotterdam. 

Once more the kindness of the clergy in town 
was manifested by the regularity with which the 
services in the convent chapel were performed. 
At a time when ^// were kind it is hard to parti- 
cularise one more than another. It may, however, 
be permitted to name one who has lately gone to 
his reward, the Rev. Walter Lomax, S.J., who 
was always ready to officiate at the convent, and 
to take the place of any other priest in this work 
of charity. May his eternal reward be great ! 

The departure of Father Walmesley from Edin- 
burgh was a great loss to St. Margaret's, where 
he had acted as confessor since the removal of 
Father O'Donnell. 

Much difficulty being experienced In finding a 
suitable chaplain for the convent, application was 


made to the Very Rev. the Father Provincial of 
the Society of Jesus, and permission was obtained 
for the services at St. Margaret's to be performed 
by the Fathers residing at Lauriston. This has 
been maintained ever since, to the great benefit 
of the Community, who can never be sufficiently 
grateful for all the graces they have received by 
means of the Society. 

The close of the year again found the Sisters 
in sorrow. On the 3d of December they lost 
Sister Aenes Xavier Trail, whose name has so 
frequently occurred in these pages, and who had 
been so distinguished a member of the Community. 
After a long period of failing health she expired 
on the feast of her patron saint, fortified by all 
the blessings which the Holy Church lavishes on 
her faithful children at that supreme moment when 
they are about to enter on eternal life. 

In the following May the remains of Mr. Hope 
Scott of Abbotsford were laid in the vaults beneath 
the chapel. In the life of this eminent man it has 
been mentioned that he had a special affection for 
St. Margaret's Convent. He was a most kind and 
generous benefactor to St. Margaret's, and also to 
St. Joseph's, Perth ; and was, moreover, ever ready 
to assist the superiors by his advice and influence. 
On the death of Mrs. Hope Scott, which occurred 
in an hotel in Edinburgh in 1858, Dr. Gillis offered 



Mr. Hope Scott a burial-place in the crypt at the 
convent ; and there (as Mr. Ornsby has told the 
world) the grandchild of Sir Walter Scott reposes, 
along with her two children, Walter and Margaret. 
Mr. Hope Scott expressed a wish to be also buried 
at St. Maroraret's. After a solemn service had 
been performed in the Church of the Jesuit Fathers, 
Farm Street, London, on which occasion the Very 
Rev. Dr. Newman delivered a touching discourse, 
the remains were conveyed to Edinburgh. 

The funeral took place on the yth of May, and 
was attended by a large number of the friends and 
relatives of the deceased, and a numerous body 
of the clergy. All were anxious to testifiy their 
respect for one who had been so great a benefactor 
to the Church in Scotland, and whose private life 
had been a model to every Catholic gentleman. 

The Sisters now undertook the duty of visit- 
ing Craiglockhart Poorhouse regularly, for the in- 
struction of the Catholic inmates of that institution. 
Permission for this good work was given by the 
Board, and after a short time further facilities were 
granted, by which the religious were allowed to 
furnish a room as a chapel, where they assembled 
the Catholics on Sundays for devotions and instruc- 
tion, and where Mass is occasionally celebrated. 

A lady interested in the work presented a 
beautiful set of pictures for the Way of the Cross. 

NEW BELL. 195 

Archbishop Strain authorised the solemn erection 
of the Stations, and this devotion has been greatly- 
appreciated by the poor people. 

The Sisters have met with every kindness from 
the governor and matron of the Poorhouse, and 
their labour of love has done much to soften the 
unavoidable trials which attend the lot of its 

A most interesting function took place in July, 
one which is another proof of the decay of bigotry 
in Scotland. It is well known that the churches 
belonging to the established religion are alone 
legally entitled to have bells, and it had happened 
on several occasions that the attempt to contravene 
this statute of the realm had been followed by 
disagreeable interference on the part of the magis- 
trates and others. 

" The Convent Bell," so necessary in fact as 
well as familiar in fiction, had hitherto been rung 
at a bell-turret in the house, but now the Com- 
munity received the present of a large church bell, 
cast by a firm In Dublin. 

The bell was solemnly blessed by Dr. Strain, 
assisted by Father Hannan, Father Pope, S.J., and 
Father W. Turner, who acted as master of cere- 

The Bishop gave a short address explanatory 
of the ceremony, and proceeded with the blessing 


according to the ritual. The bell was named 
" Margaret," and was first tolled by the Bishop, 
and then by the donor and godmother. 

Within a few days the bell was hung in the 
belfry of the chapel, and from thence its voice has 
been heard many times a day by all the surround- 
ing neighbourhood. In one instance, at least, it 
was the means of leading to a conversion. The 
Antrelus bell was remarked as beincr runor in a 
different manner from the other bells, and a gentle- 
man living near the convent inquired of a friend 
the reason of this peculiar way of ringing three 
times daily. The Catholic thus interrogated gladly 
availed himself of the opportunity afforded, and 
explained various points of Christian doctrine re- 
garding the Incarnation, devotion to the Blessed 
Virgin, &c. Some years later an eminent eccle- 
siastic requested permission to say Mass in the 
convent chapel, and then, for the first time, the 
Community heard of the good work that had been 
begun by the bell, and which had resulted in the 
conversion of this gentleman, who became a priest, 
and who came to give glory to God for these 
graces, in the chapel where the bell rang to call 
the Community to assist at his Mass. 

The English pilgrimage to Paray le Monial took 
place in August 1873. Many will remember the 
enthusiastic devotion to the Sacred Heart which 


was manifested by all classes of Catholics on this 
occasion. Clergy and laity alike were eager to 
join the pilgrimage, and those who could not go 
in person subscribed the means to send a substi- 
tute to present their homage and petitions in the 
favoured spot where our Divine Lord manifested 
Himself to His faithful servant, the blessed Mar- 
garet Mary Alacoque. A deputation from Scot- 
land joined the pilgrimage, headed by Lord Henry 
Kerr, and many fervent Catholics, both priests 
and laymen, ladies and gentlemen. As each de- 
putation was to have its own banner, it was re- 
quisite that one should be made for Scotland. This 
delightful task was proposed to the nuns at St. 
Margaret's, and was undertaken by them at the 
request of Lord and Lady Henry Kerr. At the 
pilgrimage the banner was carried by Lord Walter 
Kerr, and it was considered a beautiful specimen 
of work, both in design and execution. It was 
placed in the chapel at Paray le Monial, and there, 
as we trust, it represents Scotland before the altar 
of the Sacred Heart ; and its motto, " Cor Jesu, 
miserere Scotiae," is a constant prayer for our be- 
loved country. 

The crowded neighbourhood of Greenside had 
lonor been in want of a school for the numerous 
Catholic children who roamed about its closes and 
alleys. The Bishop and the Rev. George Rigg 


offered the charge of a school in York Lane to 
the nuns ; a second school in Mary field was also 
opened, and both were fully attended. At a later 
period the school at Maryfield was put into the 
hands of the Marist Brothers, who reside there 
and conduct a boys' school, and the labours of the 
Sisters were confined to the girls' school at York 
Lane. The purchase of a house in Albany Street 
enabled the Sisters charged with the children to 
reside in that locality till July 1880, when the death 
of several members of the Community obliged them 
to relinquish this interesting branch of usefulness, 
and the schools were transferred to the care of 
Franciscan nuns from Glasgow, who have since 
retained the charge. 

( 199 ) 


LADY ALTAR. 1875-1878. 

Early in July 1875 the Sisters at St. Margaret's 
had the pleasure of a long-expected visit from 
the Reverend Mother Marie Neophyte, Superioress- 
General of the Congregation in France. She was 
accompanied by Mother St. Clemence, one of her 
assistants. The reverend Mother had spent many 
years at St. Margaret's, and had been one of 
those religious who had accompanied Mother Mary 
Emily to France in 1855. 

After an absence of nearly twenty years she 
returned to spend a short time in her old home, 
which she had never ceased to love, and where 
she was welcomed with the most affectionate 
cordiality. Mother St. Clemence had never been 
in Scotland, so that everything was new to her ; 
and it was with some surprise that she found in 
tins Protestant country so large a convent and so 
numerous a Community. 


Many changes had taken place since 1855, and 
many dear old friends had passed away ; so that 
joy and sorrow were mingled in Mother Mary 
Neophyte's feelings. Still she found many who 
knew and loved her already, and those who had 
not known her till now were won by her sweet 
gentle manner, and the air of unostentatious sanc- 
tity which distinguished her. 

It was a great happiness to possess her, though 
the time flew only too quickly, and the visit was 
far too short. 

This opportunity was taken to obtain infor- 
mation as to the usages of the French Congrega- 
tion in various points of rule and religious discip- 
line. It was suggested by the Mother-General 
that it might be advisable for St. Margaret's to be 
united to the French Congregation under certain con- 
ditions ; but so serious a step, and one so completely 
at variance with the original intentions of Bishop 
Gillis and the foundresses, required to be maturely 
considered, and nothing could be said on the sub- 
ject beyond the promise of considering it in all 
its bearings, and taking advice from those most 
competent to give it. 

The reverend Mother Mary Neophyte and 
Mother St. Clemence took their leave with many 
regrets at the end of July. The visit had been a 
real pleasure to all parties, and had drawn still 


closer the union between the two branches of the 
Congregation. The deHcate health of the Mother- 
General made it very unlikely that she would ever 
again be able to come to Scotland, and when the 
Sisters said farewell all felt that they would never 
meet again in this world. She died on the 13th 
August 1879. 

The proposal made for the union of St. Mar- 
garet's to the French Congregation was duly con- 
sidered, and it was thought advisable to obtain the 
opinion and advice of the Right Rev. Dr. Ulla- 
thorne. Bishop of Birmingham, on the subject, his 
Lordship being one of the highest authorities on 
all matters of religious rules. With the sanction 
of Dr. Strain the reverend Mother applied to Dr. 
Ullathorne, who kindly came to Edinburgh with 
his nephew, the Rev. John Ullathorne, and re- 
mained at the Hermitage from the 15th to the 
23d of October. During these delightful days the 
Bishop's kindness to the Community was truly 
paternal. His Lordship devoted every forenoon 
to a meeting with the Sisters, in which all their 
business matters were thoroughly discussed. In 
the evening he joined the Community at recrea- 
tion, and charmed every one by his affability and 
his interesting and instructive conversation. 

Towards the end of the visit Dr. Strain was 
present at the morning conference, when Dr. Ulla- 


thorne summed up his advice by recommending 
the Community of St. Margaret's to remain inde- 
pendent of the French Congregation as to govern- 
ment, while continuing that sisterly union of hearts 
that has always existed between the separate 
establishments. Dr. Strain thanked the Bishop of 
Birminorham, in his own name and that of the 
Sisters of St. Margaret's, for all the interest he had 
taken in their affairs, and for the time he had de- 
voted to them. 

During this year the Sodality of the Children of 
Mary made considerable advances. For several 
years it had been affiliated to the Prima Primaria 
in Rome, but few persons beyond the pupils had 
become members of it. Now, however, it became 
better known. Dr. Strain gave permission for 
Benediction to be given once a month to the So- 
dalists. On these occasions an Instruction was 
likewise given by the Rev. T. Williams, S.J. ; and 
during the month the ladies undertook a certain 
amount of work for poor churches. These pious 
and useful practices have been perseveringly 
followed ever since ; and at various times hand- 
some presents of church linen and vestments have 
been given to destitute missions. 

The first public Retreat to ladies in the world 
was given at St. Margaret's by the Rev. Edmund 
Vaughan, C.SS.R., in the month of August. This, 


too, was the beginning of an excellent work which 
brings good results. 

Those who remember St. Margaret's in its early- 
days will recall the situation as being quite removed 
from any other dwellings. Greenhill Cottage and 
Bruntsfield House were the only houses within 
sight, and It was hoped that this seclusion might 
long continue. Years had brought many changes, 
and amongst others that of a great increase in the 
buildings in Granofe Loan and all the streets lead- 
incr towards Morninorside. 

The Greenhill Parks (purchased by Dr. Gillls) 
were feued for buildings, and rows of villas, in 
every style of architecture, were erected opposite 
the convent. The old trees were cut down, and 
the '' shady lane," which had been such a pleasant 
approach to the convent, no longer existed. Still, 
there were the Warrender Parks, and surely they 
would never be touched ! Alas for the uncertainty 
of human thinors ! The reverend Mother received 
intelligence that these beautiful fields were also to 
be feued for building purposes, and that if the 
Community wished to escape a row of houses 
close to their boundary wall on the north side, 
their only means of protection was by purchasing 
a portion of the land In question. 

The matter was too Important to admit of de- 
lay or even hesitation. A large piece of land was 


purchased at a considerable sacrifice ; but it was 
thought only justice to the Community, in all time 
coming, to obviate so great an annoyance as would 
have been the threatened houses in such close 
proximity to the convent grounds. 

As soon as the purchase of the field was con- 
cluded, it was solemnly blessed by the Bishop. 
The ceremony was very striking. The pupils were 
dressed in white and wore long veils. They carried 
a banner of the Blessed Virgin ; the Community 
followed, with the banners of St. Joseph and of 
the Sacred Heart. The Bishop was vested in 
cope and mitre. The procession went all round 
the field singing the Hymn of the Sacred Heart, 
the Litany of the Blessed Virgin, and the Hymn 
of St. Joseph, the Bishop blessing the field with 
holy water and the usual prayers. On the return 
of the procession to the chapel, his Lordship gave 

A high wall was afterwards erected round the 
newly-acquired property, but the houses soon over- 
looked it, and increased the gratitude of the Com- 
munity that they were not in closer proximity. 

The field has proved a most agreeable addition 
to the convent grounds, and, by means of a gate, 
communication was also opened with the southern 
parks, thus affording extensive recreation-ground 
to the nuns and pupils. 


The Bishop requested the aid of some of the 
Sisters during the year 1875 i^ g^^i^g Christian 
Instruction to the CathoHcs Kving at Davidson's 
Mains, a village about three miles to the north- 
west of Edinburgh. It was arranged that the 
catechism should be given in the village school- 
house, which was lent for the purpose on Sunday 
afternoons. A considerable number of children 
and adults attended these classes with admirable 
regularity. The children were prepared for the 
sacraments, and their elders were renewed in their 
first fervour. This good work continued till 1882, 
when, by the exertions and generosity of Mrs. 
Cralgie Halkett of Cramond House, a temporary 
chapel was arranged, and the Rev. Michael Turner 
went to Davidson's Mains as resident priest. After 
his removal to the more important town of South 
Queensferry in 1885, he requested the Sisters to 
resume their attendance at Davidson's Mains, which 
they gladly consented to do. 

Early in May 1877 the Bishop went to Rome, 
accompanied by the Rev. Dr. Smith, for the cele- 
bration of the jubilee of his Holiness Pius IX. 
On this occasion the Sisters of St. Margaret's sent 
an offering to the Holy Father, with an illuminated 
address, which was presented by the Bishop, and 
to which a gracious reply was sent with the Papal 


The solemn Trlduo for the Pope was observed 
at the convent by every possible demonstration of 
joy. The Blessed Sacrament was exposed, and 
ceaseless prayers were offered for the Holy Father. 
The devotions concluded with a '' Te Deum." 

On the return of the Bishop from Italy he paid 
a visit to St. Margaret's, and gave a most interest- 
ing account of his stay in Rome, and of the 
manner in which the festivals had been celebrated 

For many years it had been the desire of the 
Community to embellish their chapel by suitable 
altars to the Sacred Heart and the Blessed Virgin. 
Many former pupils had already subscribed to- 
wards this object, and the development of the 
Sodality made it highly desirable that the Lady 
Altar should be placed without further delay. Mr. 
George Goldie of London, was asked to furnish 
a design, and the work was executed under his 
direction by Mr. Earp. 

The statue was presented by Mr. Clapperton of 
Fochabers, and an elegant lamp by Lord Ralph 

To assist in defraying the expenses connected 
with the altar, a little bazaar was held In the class- 
rooms of the convent In January 1878. 

Many friends sent contributions towards the 


Stalls, and a Christmas tree was a great point of 
attraction to youthful visitors. 

At the close of the bazaar it was found that the 
necessary funds had been obtained, and that all 
expenses had been cleared. The altar was much 
admired, and has been conducive to increased 
devotion to the Immaculate Virgin. The monthly 
meetings of the Sodallsts always take place in the 
Lady Chapel, as well as the exercises of Retreats 
for secular ladies. 

( 2o8 ) 



At the end of the year 1877 Dr. Strain again went 
to Rome. An important work was about to be 
accompHshed. The ancient Hierarchy was about 
to be restored to Scotland, and great was the 
anxiety felt on all sides while many rumours of the 
deliberations reached home. All was decided at 
length ; but when the news arrived the joy was 
mingled with sorrow. The re-establishment of the 
Scotch Hierarchy was the last act of the Holy 
Father, Pius IX., who died on the 7th of February 
1878. The whole Church mourned for his death. 
During his long Pontificate he had become en- 
deared to every Catholic heart, and his children 
felt truly orphans. 

A magnificent requiem service was celebrated 
at St. Mary's, attended by almost all the clergy 
of the district ; an eloquent panegyric was delivered 
by the Rev. George Rigg. 


Archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh. 


A solemn service was also celebrated in the 
convent chapel for the Holy Father. 

Many were the prayers now offered for the 
blessing of God on the election of the successor 
of Pius IX. This took place on the 20th January 
1878, and was the occasion of great thanksgiving 
and rejoicing In the whole Catholic world. By 
order of the Bishop a solemn " Te Deum " was 
sung after Mass on Sexagesima Sunday. 

His Lordship lost another dear friend while in 
Rome, the Very Rev. Dr. Grant, who had been 
Rector of the Scots College for many years, and 
who was universally esteemed by his numerous 
friends. He died on the 27th March. 

The death of Pius IX. naturally retarded the 
arrangements of Scotch ecclesiastical matters, and 
it was not till the 28th March that the official 
announcement was made of the re-establishment of 
the Hierarchy, the division of the dioceses, and 
nomination of bishops. 

On the loth of April Dr. Strain returned to 
Edinburgh as Archbishop and Metropolitan ; and 
on the 1 2th he paid a visit to St. Margaret's. As 
soon as he entered the court, the bells were rung, 
and the Community and pupils assembled to re- 
ceive his blessing. His Grace spent some time 
in the convent, and gave most interesting details 



of his Stay in Rome, of the death of Plus IX., and 
the election of Leo XIII. 

The functions of Holy Week prevented any 
special festivities in honour of the Archbishop ; but 
on the 25th April the Community had the happi- 
ness of presenting his Grace with their congratula- 
tions on his appointment to the Archieplscopal See 
of St. Andrews and Edinburgh. His Grace was 
conducted to the Community room, where he was 
presented with a beautiful alb. He dined in the 
Refectory with the Sisters, and afterwards went 
to the schoolroom, where the children were pre- 
pared to receive his visit. An appropriate address 
was read by Miss Kate Barry, and a lace rochet 
presented along with an Illuminated copy of the 
address from the school. His Grace expressed 
how much he was touched and gratified by the 
congratulations he had received, and gave an 
affectionate blessing to all present. He officiated 
at Benediction in the eveninof, when a '' Te Deum" 
was sung. 

The appointment of the Right Rev. George 
Rigg as Bishop of Dunkeld brought about several 
changes in Edinburgh. The Very Rev. William 
Smith was appointed Vicar-General, and from that 
time has always taken a lively interest In the 
welfare of St. Margaret's. 


One whose life was devoted to good works, and 
whose name Is in benediction, was at this time 
a frequent inmate of the apartments allotted to 
lady boarders — the late Dowager Lady Herries. 
If the life of this saintly woman is ever made 
known to the world, it will be seen that her virtue 
was closely allied to that of the most eminent 
servants of God, and that in all things, and at 
the cost of any sacrifice of personal feeling, she 
strove after perfection. The first object she had 
in wishing to spend some weeks at St. Margarets 
was to live in retirement, where she could be near 
a chapel ; her second wish was to economise her 
means, the better to further the foundation of a 
Convent of Nuns of Perpetual Adoration. 

From the time of her first visit Lady Herries 
retained great regard for St. Margaret's, and it 
was a pleasure to the Sisters as well as herself 
that she came again and again to stay for Lent, 
the Month of Mary, or other seasons of special 
I devotion, during the remaining years of her life. 
She was a constant subject of edification by her 
fervent piety, her charity, and her mortification. 
Had her life been prolonged, she would have 
spent her last years in a religious Order. In the 
eloquent sermon delivered at her funeral, it was 
mentioned that her last journey to Rome, was 
undertaken to make necessary arrangements for 


carrying out this holy vocation. An indisposition, 
which at first caused no uneasiness, developed 
dangerous symptoms ; and in a few days Marcia, 
Lady Herrles, breathed her last. The convent, 
for which she had worked and prayed, was opened 
in the following autumn, and is only one of many 
monuments to this holy woman. 

The erection of the Lady Altar in the convent 
chapel made it desirable that the altar to the 
Sacred Heart should be in the same style. Mr. 
Goldle was again requested to furnish designs, 
and in the course of the summer of 1880 the 
temporary altar was superseded by the stone and 
marble one, now in the west aisle. The statue of 
the Sacred Heart was presented by John Mellon, 
Esq., a constant friend to all good works, and a 
generous benefactor to St. Margaret's. 

Another addition to the devotional attractions 
at the convent is the Grotto of Our Lady of 
Lourdes, In the garden. A model of the Grotto 
was sent from Lourdes, for the purpose of ensuring 
the resemblance of the one at St. Margaret's to 
the favoured Sanctuary of the Immaculate Virgin 
in the Pyrenees. A statue of Our Lady was pre- 
sented by Mrs. Miles Fletcher, and after remain- 
ing for two days in the Grotto at Lourdes, came 
without accident to Edinburgh. The Grotto in 


the convent garden was finished early in June, 
and was solemnly blessed on the Feast of St. 

The Rev. Father Whyte, S.J., gave Bene- 
diction, and in the evening of that day he 
delivered an interesting Instruction explanatory 
of pilgrimages to holy places, and especially to 
Lourdes. A procession was then formed ; the 
pupils carried a banner of the Blessed Virgin ; they 
were followed by the Community, acolytes, and 
Father Whyte. 

The favourite hymn *' Immaculate " was sung 
while the procession advanced to the Grotto, which 
was adorned with lights and flowers. Father 
Whyte blest the Grotto and Statue, and then the 
procession returned to the chapel. 

A petition was presented to the Holy Father, 
for an Indulgence for those visiting Our Lady of 
Lourdes, and this was graciously accorded. 

An Ex Voto Tablet has recently been placed in 
the Grotto by the grateful parents of a little girl, 
whose cure, when dangerously 111, was obtained by 
the use of water from Lourdes. 

It was with deep sorrow and anxiety that the 
friends of Father O'Donnell learnt that he was 
in a precarious state of health. On the Festival 
of Corpus Christ! he officiated for the last time 


in his church at Falkirk, and then was obHged to 
acknowledge himself unable to do more. 

The Archbishop went to Falkirk several times 
to see Father O'Donnell, and requested Mother 
Margaret Teresa to go and nurse him, which she 
gladly consented to do, and with the assistance of 
another Sister did all in her power to relieve his 
sufferings till he expired. 

The Archbishop had hoped the invalid might 
have recovered sufficiently to be removed to his 
old home at the Hermitage ; but it was evidently 
impossible. The daily bulletins sent by Mother 
Margaret Teresa gave no hope. On the 24th 
of August the Archbishop went to Falkirk, in the 
forenoon, and brought word that Father O'Donnell 
was dying ; the telegram announcing that all was 
over arrived In the afternoon. The Community 
sorrowed deeply and long for the loss of one who, 
after the death of Dr. Gillls, had been to them 
as a second father. 

As he had himself requested, his remains were 
brought to Edinburgh for interment in the Grange 
Cemetery. The leading gentlemen of Falkirk, both 
Catholics and Protestants, accompanied the coffin 
to the station ; wishing thus to testify their respect 
and esteem for one who had endeared himself to 
all classes during his residence of eleven years in 
that town. Several members of the Catholic body, 





and of the Young Men's Association, came to 
Edinburgh, and claimed the privilege of lifting 
the coffin when occasion required. Several of the 
clergy were waiting with a hearse at the Wa- 
verley Station when the train arrived, and the 
body was taken to St. Mary's, where the Vespers 
of the Dead were chanted. The church was 
crowded, and numbers of Father O'Donnell's 
old friends remained there in prayer, till late at 

The funeral took place on the 29th August. 

The coffin was placed on a handsome catafalque 
before the altar, and in the sanctuary was a large 
number of priests. Monsignor Smith officiated, 
assisted by Father Hannan as deacon, and Father 
Woods as subdeacon. The Archbishop occupied 
the throne. Bishop Rigg was also present. At 
the conclusion of the Mass, the Archbishop made 
a touching panegyric of Father O'Donnell. The 
absolutions were given by the Rev. Alexander 
Gordon, Bishop Rigg, and the Archbishop. When 
the clergy had entered their carriages, they were 
followed by hundreds of people, all lamenting the 
death of one so beloved and revered. On reaching 
the cemetery the ''Young Men" of Falkirk carried 
the remains to the grave, situated in the ground 
belonging to St. Margaret's, where the last prayers 
were said by the Archbishop. 


A marble cross was erected over the grave of 
Father O'Donnell by the nuns of St. Margaret's. 

The Rev. Father Burke, O.P., having come to 
Edinburgh to deliver one of his lectures at the 
Church of the Sacred Heart, Lauriston Street, was 
kind enough to call at the convent. His visit, 
though short, was a great pleasure to all who saw 
him. He was then in very suffering health, but 
no one who heard his cheerful conversation and 
merry jokes with the children could have guessed 
how much pain he was enduring. 

The year 1883 was to be again one of mourning 
to the Church in Edinburgh. The Archbishop left 
home in May, being called by business to Rome. 
The circumstances of his illness, his sad homeward 
journey, and his death, are still too recent to require 
a detailed account. It was inexpressibly sad to 
all his flock to see the venerable Archbishop so 
enfeebled and ill, and he himself fully realised his 
position. Still, he was present at Mass in the Pro- 
Cathedral on the Sunday after his return home, 
being wheeled into the sanctuary in an invalid 
chair. Before leaving the church he addressed the 
congregation, and imparted to them the Papal bless- 
ing. Every one present was deeply touched, and 


many earnest prayers were offered for his restora- 
tion to health. 

For a time It was hoped that he might recover ; 
some improvement was observable, and he was 
able to take carriage exercise in the fine summer 
evenings. On one of these occasions he called at 
St. Margaret's. He was accompanied by Mon- 
slgnor Smith, Father Donlevy, and Father Woods. 
The large gates were thrown open and the carriage 
driven into the court. The bell soon brought the 
Community and the pupils together. His Grace 
was assisted to alight, and he sat down in the hall, 
talking of his visit to Rome and the kindness of 
the Holy Father. He gave an affectionate bless- 
ing before leaving, promising to return soon again. 

The reverend Mother went to St. Mary's to see 
his Grace on Sunday, the ist of July, and he was 
able to walk across the room and show her the 
altar where Mass was said every morning ; he also 
spoke of the preparations that were being made 
for the celebration of his jubilee, and expressed a 
wish to see the Sisters after the fatlo^ues of the 
festivities had passed off. 

The following day, as Is well known, the Arch- 
bishop went down to the church to Inspect the 
arrangements. Shortly after returning to his room 
his attendant was attracted by a change In his 


breathing; Monsignor Smith and Father Donlevy 
were summoned, and in a few moments the Arch- 
bishop expired. 

The preparations for the jubilee were changed for 
the sad mourning of the Dirge and Requiem Mass, 
the funeral service taking place on the 6th July. 

The Pro-Cathedral was crowded by a sorrowing 
congregation, the impression being deepened by 
the sudden revulsion of feeling from joy to grief. 
The remains of the Archbishop were deposited in 
the vaults beneath the sanctuary of the church. 

The Archdiocese of St. Andrews and Edinburgh 
now entered on a long period of widowhood, more 
than two years elapsing before the nomination of 
the Most Rev. William Smith to the Metropolitan 

( 219 ) 



On the 6th of October 1833, Sister Agnes Xavler 
and Sister Margaret Teresa consecrated themselves 
to God in holy religion, and received the habit at 
Chavagnes. Since that time many changes have 
taken place, and many who shared in the joy of 
that Rosary Sunday, have gone to sing their Alle- 
luias with the angelic choir. Bishop Gillis and 
Sister Agnes Xavier have both been taken to 
their reward ; but Mother Margaret Teresa is yet 
with us, and the celebration of her fiftieth year of 
religious life was naturally a matter of importance 
to her Community. 

It was sadly against her own wishes to be 
brought thus prominently forward, but, as the first 
nun In Scotland since the Reformation, It was 
desired that all honour should be paid to her on 
this occasion. 

The old friends and pupils of the house most 


affectionately and generously wished to unite with 
the Community in celebrating the feast, and many 
letters were received, inquiring, ** What would 
Mother Margaret Teresa like ? What would give 
her most pleasure ? " There could be but one 
answer from those who knew Mother Margaret 
Teresa. *' Something for the altar, or something 
for the poor." 

When the time drew near gifts arrived from 
all quarters. Magnificent candelabra from the old 
pupils ; a splendid clborium from her brothers ; 
vestments from other Communities and friends ; 
clothes, tea, sugar, and tobacco for the dear poor. 
How many times was heard the exclamation, 
" How pleased she will be ! " 

The blessing of the Holy Father had been asked 
for, and it arrived with a beautiful photograph of 
himself, forwarded by Monslgnor Campbell of the 
Scots College, Rome. 

On the morning of the 6th October, early Masses 
were celebrated In the convent chapel. 

At ten o'clock High Mass was sung by the 
Right Rev. Monslgnor Smith, Administrator of 
the Archdiocese, assisted by Father Selby, S.J., 
as Deacon, and the Rev. Robert Clapperton as 

The music was Haydn's Second Mass. 

At the conclusion of the holy sacrifice, Mon- 


signer Smith addressed a few suitable words to 
the jubilarian, congratulating her on the occasion 
of the fiftieth anniversary of her religious life, and 
in conclusion, saying, that it was his privilege to 
impart, and hers to receive, the Papal Benediction. 
After pronouncing the blessing, he intoned the 
'' Te Deum," which was enthusiastically sung by 
the choir and congregation. 

The pupils, religious, clergy, and guests then 
proceeded to the Community room, which wore a 
truly festive appearance — the walls were festooned 
with wreaths, and the panels in the ceiling filled 
alternately with shields bearing appropriate mottoes 
and devices, and wreaths of fiowers. At the end 
of the room was displayed a scroll with the words, 
" Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee 
the crown of life." 

The beautiful gifts were arranged on a table at 
the side of the room. 

Among the honoured guests on this happy 
occasion were members of several other religious 
Orders — Sisters of Mercy, Sisters of the Good 
Shepherd, Oblates of Mary, Franciscans, and Little 
Sisters of the Poor. 

When all were assembled, Mother Margaret 
Teresa was conducted to her place by Mother 
Mary Angela and Sister Mary Stanislaus. Mon- 
slgnor Smith then spoke, in the name of all pre- 


sent, renewing their congratulations and offering 
the gifts that had been presented. 

Father Gordon, the senior priest present, him- 
self a jubilarian, was requested to return thanks, 
after which the clergy and company sat down to 
a ddjeuner. 

Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament was given 
in the afternoon, and a merry evening was spent 
with the children, who shared in all the festivities 
of the day. 

The locality occupied by the day-school In Castle 
Terrace had long been found inconveniently small, 
and otherwise ill-adapted for educational purposes. 
Many an afternoon was spent in looking out for a 
house which might be purchased for St. Ann's, 
but without any satisfactory result. It was there- 
fore decided that a house should be built at the 
extremity of the Strathearn Parks, on the convent 
property, and that it should be arranged as com- 
modiously as possible for this long-established 

The foundation-stone was laid on the 21st Sep- 
tember, and was solemnly blessed by Monsignor 
Smith, who also read the inscription, which was 
placed in a bottle embedded in the stone. Besides 
the inscription, which was engrossed on parchment, 
the bottle contained a copy of the Catholic Direc- 


tory for the year 1884, a florin of Queen Victoria, 
a medal of Leo XIII., &c. 

The trowel, level, and mallet used on this occa- 
sion were the same used by Bishop GIllIs when 
he laid the foundation-stone of the new buildings 
at the convent In i860. 

While on a visit to Edinburgh in October 
1884, Monsignor Dillon (of Sydney) kindly called 
at St. Margaret's and spent some time in the 
schoolroom. He gave a most interesting account 
of his visit to the shrine and miraculous picture 
of Our Lady of Good Counsel, at Genazzano, 
near Rome, strongly urging devotion to the Blessed 
Virgin under this title. He left some oleographs 
which had touched the original picture as memorials 
of his visit. 

The jubilee of the convent, according to date, 
ought to have been kept on the 26th December 
1884, but the celebration was deferred till an Arch- 
bishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh should be 
present. The Community, however, observed the 
day as a family feast. The statue of St. Margaret 
(presented by Mrs. Campbell of Lochnell) was 
placed on an altar beautifully ornamented. A 
catalogue of the names of all the Sisters who had 
formed the Community of St. Margaret's was en- 



closed In a silver gilt heart and suspended round 
the neck of the statue by Mother Margaret Teresa, 
the Sisters singing the Psalm " Ecce quam homum " 
the while. 

The 28th was a day specially devoted to thanks- 
giving, it being the fiftieth anniversary of the first 
Mass celebrated in the convent. Father Selby 
sang Mass at 10 o'clock. The Blessed Sacrament 
was exposed till Benediction, at which the *'Te 
Deum" was sung. All present were deeply moved 
with love and gratitude to God for all His good- 
ness during these past fifty years, and all renewed 
the consecration of their lives to the service of the 
Word Incarnate, and thus entered on the second 
epoch of the life of the first convent In Scotland 
since the so-called Reformation. 

( 225 ) 



The name of Mother Mary Angela Is familiar 
to our readers, and dear to the memory of the 
many children who owe to her much of the happi- 
ness of their early years ; to the poor, who called 
down blessings on her head, and above all, to the 
Sisters, over whom she presided for a long period 
of time, both at St. Margaret's and at St. Joseph's. 

It was with Inexpressible sorrow that the Com- 
munity watched over the close of her life, wasted 
by a terrible malady, which she bore with heroic 
patience. Everything that medical skill could do 
was tried to alleviate her sufferings, but without 
avail. Every spiritual succour was lavished upon 
the beautiful soul, whose whole life had been spent 
for God. As long as she could leave her room, 
the dear invalid was present at Mass, Benedic- 
tion, and the exercises of the Community. One 
by one, these were relinquished, and as she was 
missed from her accustomed place, it was felt that 


another step had been taken towards the end of 
her way of the cross. 

Within a few days of her death she was 
consoled by the blessing sent her by the Holy 
Father. In Holy Week it became evident that 
her strength was fast failing, but she lived till the 
loth of April, Friday in Easter Week, when she 
passed from her cross to her crown. 

Mother Mary Angela had been so widely known, 
and so deeply respected and beloved, that her 
funeral was attended by a large number of the 
clergy. Bishop Rigg came from Perth, and 
several priests from distant missions, all desirous 
to pay their last tribute of esteem to the departed 

Monsignor Smith had been obliged to go to 
Rome a few days previous to her death : from 
him, and from others, unavoidably absent, the 
reverend Mother received letters of condolence, 
all testifying to the general feeling of regard 
entertained for Mother Mary Angela by all who 
knew her. 

The new house in Strathearn Road was now 
finished, and the pupils attending the school in 
Castle Terrace, were to be transferred to this 
locality at the beginning of May. To make the 
school villa known to the Catholics of Edinburgh, 


It had been resolved to inaugurate the establish- 
ment by holding a Drawing-room Bazaar in the 
new house, the time being fixed for the three last 
days of April. 

Mr. Smith Sllgo of Inzievar, one of the oldest 
friends of the Community, kindly consented to 
open the bazaar, which was generously supported 
by many friends, whose kindness furnished the 
stalls, or purchased the useful and ornamental 
articles displayed in the various departments. 

In the afternoons and evenings, concerts and 
recitations were given by the pupils of St. Mar- 
garet's and St. Ann's, and by ladles and gentlemen 
who volunteered to assist, thus adding to the 
attractions of the bazaar. 

An opportunity was thus afforded for every 
one to Inspect the house, and all expressed their 
satisfaction with the arrangements for the pupils. 

The classes were opened on the 4th of May, 
and they have been well attended during the 
past year, even through an exceptionally severe 

So much has been said and written on the in- 
exhaustible subject of education, that it is evidently 
one of the most prominent thoughts in the minds of 
men of every civilised country. How many and 
what contradictory theories are advanced ! what an 


endless variety of methods Invented, followed for 
a time, and then superseded by new plans, which 
in their turn will, after an ephemeral existence, be 
allowed to sink into oblivion ! 

There is no accusation against the Catholic 
Church more general, or more false, than that she 
is the enemy of intellectual progress. Where w^ould 
be the intellect of Europe at the present day, if 
the Catholic Church had not fostered its grerms in 
the monastic institutions of the Middle Ages, stig- 
matised as ''dark" by self-conceited scientists of 
later times ? 

It is in religious houses that the question of 
education, its end and its scope, have been most 
practically studied ; and it is from monastic schools 
that have come forth, not only the great luminaries 
of medlzeval times, but, in our own days, those 
men and women who are always in the front of 
every battle for the cause of truth and virtue, and 
whose daily lives are the surest test of the excellent 
training they received in their early years. 

The common outcry against the enforced ignor- 
ance of Catholics is generally supplemented by abuse, 
especially levelled at what is known as '' Convent 
Education." This comes naturally enough from 
Protestants, but that it should be echoed by Catho- 
lics is more than surprising. Yet, every now and 


then, some newspaper article Is brought under the 
notice of relio-ious bodies devoted to teachin"-, and 
the vulgar accusations are again and again adduced, 
that monks and nuns are '* behind the age," and 
therefore unfit to develop the intelligence of the 
rising generation ; and these things are said by 
liberal Catholics ! 

Fortunately for the teaching orders, they have 
brave champions who are ready to take up the gaunt- 
let that ignorance or prejudice has thrown down, 
and the most eloquent words have been uttered by 
their defenders. Their best defence, however, is 
the fact, that In the tests of public examinations the 
pupils of Catholic colleges and schools take places 
equal to those gained by pupils of Protestant in- 
stitutions. In the matter of education all that 
Catholics ask is a '* fair field and no favour," and 
it will be seen that they can hold their own. 

The ever-increasing pressure on the education 
question of course necessitates a corresponding 
amount of exertion on the part of both teachers 
and pupils, and In a city so devoted to learning 
as Edinburgh, there is naturally much competition 
among the num.erous establishments that exist, 
attached to sects of every shade of belief Hence 
it became incumbent on Catholics to hold their 
rank high in the lists, and St. Margaret's came to 


the front by sending pupils to the Local Examina- 
tions held at the University. The young candi- 
dates have invariably attained most satisfactory 
results, and prizes have been frequently awarded. 
The pupils from St. Ann's Seminary who have 
been presented at the University Examinations 
have likewise always passed successfully. 

While doing their utmost to promote the intel- 
lectual advancement of their pupils, the religious 
of St. Margaret's strive still more earnestly to 
instil the principles and practice of sound religious 
doctrine into the minds and hearts of the dear 
children confided to their care ; and It is their 
greatest happiness to watch the development of 
their young charges In knowledge and virtue. The 
children become much attached to their mistresses, 
and it is a mutual pleasure when they can, In 
after life, revisit the happy convent home where 
their early years were spent. The practice of re- 
treats for ladles In the world enables the old pupils 
of the house to reassemble occasionally at St. 
Margaret's, and then the old days are recalled, 
old memories are refreshed, and the old affection 
becomes even stronger than before. 

It Is a great joy when the noviciate is augmented 
by a former pupil ; the children declare they are 
''quite proud" when they see one whom they re- 


member at school become a member of the Com- 
munity. Indeed, besides the Community at St. 
Margaret's, there are many other nuns in England 
and Scotland whose first love and esteem for reli- 
gious life was imbibed In the little chapel at St. 
Margaret's, and among the Sisters who guided 
their early years. 

( 232 ) 


SEMINARY. 1 8 86. 

The time which elapsed during the absence of 
Monsignor Smith In Rome was one of consider- 
able anxiety and suspense. The Very Rev. 
William Grady was named Administrator of the 
Archdiocese, and he ordered prayers In all the 
churches, that the nomination of an Archbishop 
to the See of St. Andrew's and Edinburgh might 
speedily be made, and all other ecclesiastical 
matters be satisfactorily settled. 

At length Monsignor Smith announced his 
return home. He was joyfully welcomed on the 
9th of September; and on the 2ist the news was 
made public, that he had accepted the mitre, and 
that the flock, so long without a shepherd, would 
henceforth be ruled and guided by his firm yet 
gentle hand. 

The rejoicings were general; shared alike by 
the clergy and the laity. Nowhere were they 
more heartfelt than at St. Margaret's. 


Archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinhirgh, 



The Archbishop-elect soon favoured the Sisters 
and children with a visit, and arranged to make 
his retreat, previous to consecration, at the Her- 
mitage. How honoured and happy the Community 
felt when he expressed his wish to this effect ; and 
with what pleasure the little necessary preparations 
were made for his reception and comfort ! 

On the departure of his Grace, the Hermitage 
was again honoured by episcopal presence. The 
Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle, accompanied 
by the Rev. D. L. Ramsay, stayed there for a 
week, that they might be present at the consecra- 
tion and the subsequent festivities. 

The 28th October, Feast of SS. Simon and Jude, 
was a truly memorable day. 

The convent chapel was occupied during the 
morning hours by several masses ; and after these 
early devotions were concluded, the delightful excite- 
ment of the children, and the equally joyous, but 
more quietly expressed, happiness of their elders, 
found relief In the preparations for attending 
the consecration of the Archbishop, at the Pro- 

The late Archbishop having been consecrated 
in Rome, no such ceremony had taken place In 
Edinburgh since Bishop Gillls was consecrated in 
1838. The ceremonial was therefore unknown to 
the greater part of the vast congregation who 


assembled to witness It. Long before the hour 
of eleven, the church was crowded. The sanctuary- 
had been enlarged, for the better accommodation 
of the numerous body of clergy who were expected 
to attend, and It was not a foot too large. When 
the bell announced that all preparations were 
complete, Gounod's *' Marche Romaine " was per- 
formed by the organ and orchestra. As the pro- 
cession advanced up the church. It was watched 
with great Interest, as, after the altar boys and St. 
Joseph's guild, the clergy followed In cassock and 
surplice, many well-known faces being recognised. 
Then followed the bishops and their chaplains, 
deacons and subdeacons, the Archbishop-elect, and 
finally Archbishop Eyre of Glasgow, the conse- 
crating prelate. 

The magnificent ceremonial began, amid the 
rapt attention of the congregation, who watched 
every movement in the sanctuary with intense 
interest. Needless to describe what is still so 
fresh in the memory of all who were present, and 
has been so fully chronicled elsewhere. Let us 
rather address to Archbishop Smith the words 
with which the consecration service concludes, '* Ad 
multos annos," praying that he may long be 
spared to fulfil his high and sacred functions, and 
that the blessing which he pronounced over his 
flock may be likewise bestowed by Almighty God 


upon himself, and that all his undertakings for the 
glory of God and the advancement of religion in 
the Archdiocese may be crowned with success. 

On the evening of this eventful day Archbishop 
Eyre and Bishop M'Lachlan of Galloway visited 
St. Margaret's, and again the following day Dr. 
Eyre called, bringing one of the consecration 
loaves to the children. A visit from his Grace 
is always an immense pleasure to the children, 
for every one of whom he has a kind word and 
a blessing. 

The first care of the Community, after the con- 
secration of Archbishop Smith, was to beg his 
Grace to spend a few hours at the convent, to 
receive the congratulations of the Sisters and 
pupils. He fixed the 25th of November to come 
to St. Margaret's, and the 26th to go to St. Ann's 
— both afternoons at five o'clock. 

The 25th of November 1886 will ever be 
memorable in the annals of the convent. It was 
a day of universal joy to all the inmates of St. 
Margaret's, — hailed with gratitude and delight. 
From early morn the excitement of pleasure in 
the children was manifest, and during the day 
their joy was hardly controllable, and found its 


best safety-valve In their eagerness to share in 
the preparations for the evening. 

The school apartments were adorned and de- 
corated by all that respect and affection could 
suggest. Evergreens, flowers and flags, were dis- 
played in every available space. The two arches 
of the beautiful cloister leadlncr to the school- 
room were outlined with wreaths of evergreens, 
fastened in graceful festoons by a scroll, bearing 
the words, '' Welcome to our loved Archbishop," 
which attracted much admiration. On each side 
of the arch were two large flags, so artistically 
placed as considerably to enhance the beauty of 
the effect. 

The reception-room was particularly elegant ; 
white lace curtains draped the windows, crowns 
of roses, ferns, and flowers were suspended from 
the gasaliers. The walls displayed the Insignia 
of the Archieplscopal dignity ; the mitre, crozier, 
and pallium were emblazoned on shields, encircled 
with wreaths of holly, while a variety of choice 
hot-house plants and bright geraniums produced 
a charming harmony of colouring. The Arch- 
bishop's armorial bearings were placed above the 
folding doors at the end of the schoolroom. Below 
the shield was a scroll, with the Inscription, ''Ad 
multos annos." At the upper end of the room 
a raised seat was prepared for his Grace. When 


all was ready, the most anxious and critical scrutiny 
could not but admire the good taste which had 
presided over the arrangements, as well as the 
skill with which these had been carried out. 

At five o'clock, the religiouS; the children in 
spotless white, and a numerous assembly of clergy 
and friends (a larger gathering than has been seen 
at St. Margaret's for many years), were awaiting 
his Grace's arrival. 

Vested in purple, with rochet, mozetta, pectoral 
cross and ring, he entered the room, looking every 
inch an Archbishop ! 

The brilliant overture to Tancredl (arranged for 
two pianos, and four performers) was played ; 
and as the music ceased, Miss Ethel Thornton 
advanced with two of her companions, and 
having read an address from the pupils of 
St. Margaret's to the Archbishop, begged his 
acceptance of a handsome copy of the canon of 
the Mass (the gift presented by the school), and 
an illuminated copy of the address. 

All the young ladies then came forward to kiss 
the Archbishop's ring and receive his blessing, after 
which his Grace expressed the pleasure he felt at 
their affectionate welcome, and assured them of his 
constant Interest in their welfare and happiness. 

Father Whyte, S.J., in the name of the reverend 
Mother and the Community, thanked his Grace 


for the favour of his visit ; and after some very 
enjoyable music had been performed by Madame 
Woycke and her pupils on the violin, the company 
adjourned to the refectory, where refreshments 
were prepared. 

On the following evening the Archbishop honoured 
St. Ann's Seminary with his presence. A large 
number of the parents of the pupils assembled, to 
be present on the occasion, besides the clergy from 
every parish. 

One of the guests must be named with special 
regard — the late Sir George Harrison, M.P. It 
was only on the preceding evening that he had 
been elected, in the Liberal interest, to represent 
the Southern Division of Edinburgh in Parliament. 
At a moment when his time and thouo^hts must 
necessarily have been engrossed with many im- 
portant matters, the Community of St. Margaret's 
will never forget his kindness in coming to St. 
Ann's, nor his genial cordiality in all his dealings 
with the Sisters during the years of his provost- 

To return to the Seminary. On this auspicious 
occasion the schoolroom was decorated with flags, 
plants, and scrolls, bearing appropriate mottoes of 
welcome to the Archbishop. 

As his Grace entered the room, a pianoforte 


quartette was played by four of the pupils, and this 
was followed by a chorus, '' Many hearty greetings 
to-day," composed expressly for the occasion, and 
sung by all the children, who were arranged in 
tiers on either side of the alcove, where a beautiful 
statue of St. Ann was embowered amid flowers 
and lights. 

In compliment to the Archbishop, whose mother 
was a McDonnell of Glengarry, badges of white 
heather, and scarfs of M'Donnell tartan, fastened 
with brooches on the shoulder, were worn by the 

The address to his Grace was read by Miss 
Mary Bolan, who was supported by two of her 
companions, one of whom carried a travelling writ- 
ing-case, and the other an illuminated copy of the 
address mounted on gilt rollers. 

In reply, the Archbishop thanked the children 
for their congratulations and the good wishes ex- 
pressed in the address, and also for the writing- 
case, which he promised to preserve. He grace- 
fully alluded to the compliment they had paid his 
family by wearing the M'Donnell tartan, and ex- 
pressed his pleasure at seeing the class of little 
boys in full Highland costume. 

The Archbishop's speech, and the announcement 
of a holiday with which it concluded, were received 
with much hearty applause. 


Father Hannan, of St. Patrick's, thanked the 
Archbishop, in the name of the children, for his 
presence among them that evening, and also ex- 
pressed his own kind feelings and good wishes 
for the prosperity of the old school, in the new 

Mr. M'Nally then favoured the company with 
a solo on the violoncello. Miss M 'Hardy also 
contributed some beautiful Scotch songs ; — the 
pupils were not behindhand ; they performed duets 
and quartettes, and sang various character songs, 
which were much appreciated by the audience. 
Even the little boys did their part with great 

The company afterwards adjourned to the spa- 
clous class-rooms, opening into one another by 
large folding doors, where refreshments were laid 
out. After some time, pleasantly spent in conver- 
sation, the visitors dispersed. 

The Sisters and their pupils felt very happy at 
having received the blessing of their pastor, and the 
reiterated assurance of his paternal feelings towards 
them. They feel sure that the two bright even- 
ings which have been described (at St. Margaret's 
and St. Ann's), will never fade from the memory 
of those present ; and that the kind and winning 
words of the Archbishop will be enthroned in the 


hearts of the Httle ones whom he addressed as the 
" Lambs of his Flock." 

At the close of the festivities in his Grace's 
honour, all united with one heart and voice in 
those oft-repeated words — 

, " Ad multos annos." 










In a retrospect of fifty years how many memories 
crowd our hearts and minds ! How many well- 
known faces rise before our eyes, how many well- 
known voices, long silent, seem again to sound in 
our ears ! And thus, while celebrating the Jubilee 
of St. Margaret's Convent, recalling those who 
were most intimately connected with its rise and 
progress, we would fain dedicate to each dear 
Sister a few lines of loving remembrance. 

Time and space alike forbid so considerable 
an addition to this litde work, besides which, the 
lives of those who lived and laboured at St. Mar- 
garet's, and who have gone to their reward, were 
for the most part too uneventful to be of interest 
to the general reader. Their names are very dear 
to the Community, where each one filled her 
appointed place, and accomplished her allotted 
work, whether in the schools, among the poor, or 
in the lowly and hidden occupations of domestic 
cares. Their remains rest beneath the chapel 


where they spent so many hours in prayer, and 
where now others pray for them; they are not 
forgotten by their Sisters, whose only desire is, to 
carry on the work of the Institute as perfectly as 
it was begun by those who entered on it in 1834. 

There is one, however, who cannot be thus 
enshrined in memory alone. She w^as too widely 
known in her day to be yet forgotten even by 
the outer world ; and we feel sure that a short 
sketch of her life cannot fail to be acceptable to 
many who may still remember her. 

Sister Agnes Xavier, Ann Agnes Trail, was 
born at Panbride, Forfarshire, on the i6th of 
February 1798, and was baptized on the 25th of 
the same month. Her father was the Presbyterian 
clergyman of Panbride, and was much beloved 
and respected by his flock. Of him and of her 
mother she always retained the most affectionate 
remembrance ; indeed she was deeply attached 
to all her family. Though for a time, after her 
conversion to Catholicity, her parents and relatives 
manifested much displeasure at the step she had 
taken, and some coolness ensued, Mr. Trail was 
himself too conscientious to retain enmity against 
his daughter, who soon convinced her friends that 
she had acted from the purest motives, and only 
after mature reflection and deep study had rendered 
her convictions unchangeable. 


At the suggestion of the Rev. Thomas Glover, 
S.J., her spiritual director, she has herself given 
us the history of her early years and religious 
experiences. These give us an insight into the 
effect of Calvinistic teachings on a mind that is 
brought up under the influence of these gloomy 
doctrines. It is pleasing to be able to contrast 
these early mental terrors with the perfect peace 
and joy which Miss Trail experienced after her 
submission to the Catholic Church, and which 
only increased and deepened in her religious life. 
Her letters to Father Glover were written very 
soon after her abjuration In 1828. In those days 
a convert from Protestantism was rare. Mr. 
Ambrose Lisle Phllipps, the Honourable and 
Rev. George Spenser, and a few others, had 
indeed been brought into the Church ; but it was 
not till many years later that the transition ''from 
Oxford to Rome " became so frequent as to be 
no longer matter for surprise. Many converts 
have published their reasons for abjuring Protes- 
tantism, and it is always interesting to trace the 
different action of the grace of God on different 
souls. It is, however, still rare to find a convert 
from Presbyterianism, and therefore Sister Agnes 
Xavier's letters will be perhaps useful to some 
who belong to that body, and who may be seeking 
to serve God rather from love than fear. 


In her letters she gives a sketch of her youthful 
days, which we supplement by some further details 
and by the account of her journey to Italy. She 
here depicts herself as a pious and uncompromis- 
ing Protestant, constantly acting up to her concep- 
tion of what was right and true ; and thus, uncon- 
sciously to herself, preparing for that gift of faith 
which was to be bestowed upon her, and which 
was to change the whole tenor of her life. 

Her wonderful talent for painting attracted at- 
tention while she was still a child, and her parents 
and other relatives did all in their power to further 
her progress, by affording her the best instruction 
at their command. She soon, however, surpassed 
her teachers, and it was felt to be desirable that a 
higher standard should be placed before her. It 
was, therefore, most willingly that Mr. and Mrs. 
Trail consented to their dauofhter's makingf some 
stay in London in 1824, under the care of relatives, 
whose kindness she constantly remembered and 
referred to, when speaking of her early life. It 
was to herself a real sorrow to part from her home 
and family ; and during her absence she was a 
most punctual correspondent, never omitting to 
give every detail of her life, and her progress in 
the art of miniature painting, to which she now 
entirely turned her attention. 

Her master was Mr. Andrew Robertson, one 


of the most celebrated artists of his day. She 
was an indefatigable student, and during the en- 
suing five years the number of portraits she exe- 
cuted is well-nigh incredible. Her acuteness of 
sight was very remarkable. We have heard her 
describe the lid of a snuff-box which she painted 
for the late Lord Panmure ; It bore three minia- 
tures, the Emperor Napoleon, the Empress Maria 
Louisa, and the young King of Rome. Round 
the neck of the Empress was a gold chain with 
a locket, on the locket was a replica of the por- 
trait of the Emperor. As another proof of her 
wonderful sight she told us, that having painted 
a miniature portrait of a young lady, holding an 
open book In her hand, she inscribed a favourite 
verse of a hymn on the page of the book. 

It was delightful when she related anecdotes 
of her youth. She had seen so many changes, 
and gave such good descriptions of men and 
things. Among other stories which amused us, 
was one illustrative of the ways and doings of 
London beg^crars. 

Her cousin, the Hon. Mrs. Erskine, with whom 
she resided, had a lady's maid who one day came 
to her mistress to announce her approaching mar- 
riage, and consequently to resign her situation. 
Mrs. Erskine had a great regard for the young 
woman, and made some inquiries about the future 


husband ; all of which were satisfactorily answered. 
When the wedding day approached, the maid told 
Mrs. Erskine that her fiance had taken a house in 

Street, and that if ever her lady happened 

to be in that neighbourhood, she would be very 
proud to see her. 

It happened some months afterwards that Mrs. 
Erskine, walking with a friend, was overtaken by 
a heavy storm of thunder and rain near the street 
named. The two ladies thought themselves fortu- 
nate in being near a friendly shelter, and went to 
the house of the ci-devant lady's maid, who was 
delighted to see her old mistress. Everything was 
in perfect order ; the house nicely furnished, the 
young woman neatly dressed. She offered her 
visitors tea, which was served with perfect atten- 
tion to all the requirements of a refined tea-table. 
Mrs. Erskine was much pleased to see her old 
servant so comfortable, and said, '' I suppose your 
husband is still engaged in his business ; what trade 
does he follow ? " The poor wife blushed and 
looked confused, but at last said, "Well, madam, 
my husband is an asker." "An asker^' said Mrs. 
Erskine, **what sort of business is that .^ " It 
turned out, on explanation being given, that the 
man was a reg^ular street beeear, who took his 
station on one of the bridges. He had held this 
post for years, as a supposed cripple, and received 


daily alms from the passers-by. Thus he made a 
good livelihood, and kept his wife in a comfortable 

After profiting much by the lessons she took in 
London, it was considered advisable for Miss Trail 
to go to Italy, still further to perfect herself in her 
art. In the spring of 1826 she returned home for 
a short visit, and then started for Italy. How little 
she thought of the momentous importance of that 
journey! In her letters to Father Glover she had 
spoken of her feelings respecting It. She has, be- 
sides, left some fragments of letters to a friend, 
descriptive of her journey, which give a still further 
insight Into her mind and heart. 

The first of these letters is dated from — 

" Chambery, i-^th June 1826. 

" My dear Agnes, — When I left London I in- 
tended, In a series of letters to a few dear friends, 
to communicate whatever I thought worthy of 
notice ; but day after day has passed, and I am 
arrived thus far on my journey towards Italy with- 
out having commenced. But to-day I have en- 
joyed too much, not to wish to share It with those 
I love, especially with you. 

*' Oh, how your imagination and every feeling 
would have been enchanted In ascending the majestic 
Alps, the lower range of which I have passed to- 


day ! My heart is full ; but my pen can give but 
an inadequate idea of the scenery. At first rich 
swelling hills present themselves ; then an immense 
valley surrounded by precipitate rocks, by the edge 
of which the road winds ; next, you are shut up 
amid rocks, and enter the passage of the Echelle, 
a long gallery of 900 feet, after passing which your 
road lies through rocks heaped on rocks, wild in 
the extreme, as if Nature had just tossed them from 
her hand. Every moment the prospect varies; here 
a perpendicular tabular rock, there a peak ; now 
immense blocks of stone huddled together, covered 
with the loveliest wild flowers, interspersed with 
box-pine, walnut, mulberry, and other trees. This 
abundance of verdure amidst the bare rocks is 
beautiful in the extreme. 

'' Now you begin to descend again for about 
two hours towards Chambery, a lovely town, em- 
bosomed in the Alps ; we reached it a little before 
seven o'clock. I got a little maid from the hotel, 
and proceeded at once to the Cathedral, which is an 
old Gothic building, and rather fine. They were, 
I suppose, at vespers, so I knelt down. There 
is something almost irresistible in such numbers 
assembled to worship, and amidst the emblems of 
superstition, I still felt it was the house of prayer ; 
and from thence I sallied forth to the Boulevards, 
a fine walk shaded by trees, and thence towards 


the country, where I took a small sketch and 
returned to dinner at eight. It is now about half- 
past nine, so I must say good-night and go to 
bed. I travelled all last night, and am to be off 
again at three in the morning. Farewell, — our 
heavenly Father is present everywhere, on Alpine 
steep as in our native land. — I, too, am ever your 
affectionate A. A. T." 

''26th June 1826. 

'* Dear Agnes, — I took it into my wise head to 
be romantic, and, like most romantic people, must 
suffer for it ; having selected a lovely spot on the 
top of a crumbling terrace on the side of a hill 
commanding a fine view of the Gulf of Genoa, 
I sat down to write to you, when, alas ! my ink 
botde fell, and with it all my hopes of using pen 
and ink till I get another ; however, I do not 
like to be baffled, so I have taken my pencil, 
which had scarce been laid aside from taking a 
sketch of one of the most beautiful views on which 
my eye ever rested. Our vetturino has laid by 
for three hours during the heat of the day, and all 
other travellers have hid themselves within walls 
from the mid-day sun, now Intensely hot ; but seated 
under a fig-tree, I enjoy the air, the prospect, and 
a refreshing shade at the same time. 

'' What a lovely world has our heavenly Father 


given us to dwell in, were It not marred by sin ; 
but peace with God again enables us to contem- 
plate it with delight. When I cast my eye now 
over the rich intervening screen of vines, figs, &c., 
and rest it on the soft blue of the Mediterranean, 
and on Genoa, and the mountains receding In the 
distance, my heart exclaims, * And was this fair 
scene all made for ungrateful man ? ' Ah ! the In- 
finite goodness of Jehovah, — it was not enough 
to satisfy all our wants, but every sense must be 
gratified : the eye with beauty, the ear with music, 
now faintly poured from the branches around ; the 
grasshopper's chirp, too, is sweet — all is harmony, 
and I enjoy it the more for being alone. There 
is society where none intrude. 

" Wednesday. — I had scarcely finished the above 
when I was summoned to the vetturino, where I 
had to join a motley group of Italians — only one 
of whom could speak a few words of French, our 
conductor, too, could not understand me, so that 
I felt myself indeed alone, a stranger in a strange 
land; but there was so much to attract the eye, 
that a silent day was an enjoyment. Every turn 
winding along the shore between Genoa and Sestri 
presents a new prospect, each disputing the palm 
of beauty, so that had Paris been called on to de- 
cide, I know not to which he would have thrown 
the apple. Perhaps, on the whole, the spot from 




whence the commencement of this is dated is the 
finest ; it is the most extensive and varied ; I also 
attach to it some pleasing recollections which will 
endear it to my memory. 

Rambling about in search of the best spot for 
taking a sketch, on the acclivity of the beautiful 
terraced hill which overhangs the inn where we 
rested at midday, I found a cottage. Its singu- 
larity struck me, I entered, and in the lower part 
found a cow, which seemed much startled by my 
appearance ; on the side next the door were a few 
open wooden steps with a rope — I ascended, and 
found a family consisting of a mother with I think 
five young children. She welcomed me with a 
smile which denoted she was pleased to see me. 
I had fallen on my way up the hill and had hurt 
my arm, I showed it to her, and she immediately 
applied some wet paper, and seemed most anxious 
to relieve the pain. I tried to enter into conversa- 
tion, and with a few words of Italian and signs 
made myself tolerably understood. I showed her 
some of my tracts, which I always carry in my 
little sack. I found she could not read ; but she 
told me her children were at school, and she was 
quite delighted with two I gave her, and imme- 
diately locked them in a trunk. May the Lord 
send their contents home to the hearts of these 
poor simple peasants, thus may they become wiser 



than their teachers, of whose ignorance and vice 
I had lamentable proof in one of my compagnons 
de voyage^ while taking my sketch near the 
cottage. One of the children came and sat by 
me ; there was something in the confidence placed 
in me which went to my heart, but I could only 
pat its head and give it a little piece of money, 
which seems always acceptable. After the acci- 
dent of the ink bottle I again visited the cottage, 
to get my hands washed, and I found the master 
of the mansion had arrived for dinner, I suppose, 
which consisted of salad and bread, baked some- 
thing like an Irish potato cake on a girdle, but 
mixed with onions. They invited me to partake, 
and I did so, delighted with their hospitality, 
and pleased to see something of the manners of 
the peasantry of the country, always the most 
interesting, because the most original and also 
the most numerous class in every country. The 
physiognomy of these people was quite distinct 
from that of the peasantry of our country. The 
man especially had a dark quick eye, rather short 
face and projecting chin, with a black beard of 
perhaps ten days' growth. He seemed rather 
amused at my attempts to express my ideas, but 
very respectful, for, if I may judge by his gestures, 
he refused to sit down to dinner while I was 
present. But I pointed to his seat at the table, 


where his wife and children were already placed, 
and then he sat down ; and I went away, never 
I believe to see them again on earth ; but if the 
words of eternal life, sown in hope, should spring 
up, and bear fruit, we may yet meet, when this 
fleeting pilgrimage is over, in the land of ever- 
lasting rest — and there shall be no stranger there, 
but one heart and one tongue shall unite all the 
happy multitude that surround the throne of the 
Lamb, and they shall praise Him for ever and ever. 
That we may unite in this song is the prayer of — 
Your affectionate, Ann A. Trail." 

The above letter clearly indicates that the writer 
was a sincerely pious Protestant. She lost no op- 
portunity of instilling the doctrines of the sect she 
believed to be the true Church of God, and thought 
she did a good work in trying to shake the faith 
of the peasants she encountered. 

Fortunately, we possess a note to the preceding 
letter, in which Miss Trail says : — 

"The same month, three years after, in 1829, I 
passed by the same route on my return home ; 
we rested at mid-day at the same albergo. Blessed 
then with the light of the true faith, I bethought 
myself of my poor friends in the cottage, with 
whom I had left my tracts with a good intention ; 
but, as I now knew them to be a useless or per- 



niclous present, I set out, and with some difficulty 
found the cottage. I entered and saluted my old 
friend, the mother, who instantly recognised me. 
The children were grown, and just returned from 
school. I asked if she remembered the little books 
I had given her. *Si, signora;' and opening her 
chest, where, no doubt, they had been carefully 
locked up ever since, she presented them to me. 
I took them, saying, ' They are bad books ; I was 
a heretic when I gave them to you.' I warned her 
as to receiving such gifts for the future ; after which 
I sat down and heard the children their catechism. 

" How wonderful are the ways of God I how 
true it is that He leads the blind by a way that 
they know not ! " 

Sister Agnes Xavier often said how relieved 
her mind was to know that these tracts had done 
no harm — the thought of her ill-advised attempt 
at proselytism had been a great source of uneasi- 
ness to her at the time of her conversion, and this 
w^as only allayed by the result of her second visit 
to the good woman. The account of her journey 
reads like a bit of ancient history in these days of 
railway travelling. Our present speed gives no 
time for sketching or minute description of lovely 
views and fine buildings such as our dear artist 
delighted to record. 


Her third letter is as follows, but without date : — 

*' Dear Agnes, — I find the old proverb true, 
' Nothing teaches like experience/ I had been 
warned of the effects of the sun in these warm 
climates, but foolishly thought I could brave it, so 
followed my own vagaries the other day, as you 
know by my former letter. But the following day 
I had such a bad headache, I was hardly able to 
look up, except now and then to see the country, 
which now lay a little inland amidst hills beautifully 
and richly clothed with vines and fruit and other 
trees. At mid-day we rested again, but I was 
neither able to go out nor to write ; and after 
waiting till past twelve for a cup of coffee, which, 
when ready, was so bad I could not drink it, I 
took some cake and milk, and went to rest for an 
hour. About two we again set out, and soon got 
a glimpse of the sea, and for some miles our road 
lay along the shore. I got out and washed my 
hands in the Mediterranean. Here I saw hedges 
of aloes. 

" Next morninor we started at five. Our route 
was beautiful in most parts, but not so picturesque 
as the two preceding days. I reached Pisa about 
ten, and to-day have been engaged in seeing the 
Duomo, Baptistery, and wonderful leaning tower, 
of which you must have seen so many descrip 


tions, It is useless for me to give you one. I 
ascended to the top, and was much gratified by 
the view, which is very extensive ; the sea and 
Gulf of Genoa on one side, the Apennines on the 
other. The port of Leghorn is visible in the dis- 
tance ; and also, in clear weather, Florence, but 
to-day it was too heavy. The Duomo, or Cathe- 
dral, is a fine old building — the high altar most 
magnificent, composed of the most precious mar- 
bles. There is In the Baptistery a beautiful font 
of white marble, carved In the most exquisite man- 
ner ; and the pulpit Is of alabaster, with fine bas- 
reliefs — the birth, presentation in the Temple, 
death, and ascension of our Saviour ; and the fifth 
Is the last judgment. The Campanile is a very 
elegant building, the arches are of the most beauti- 
ful construction I ever saw." . . . 

Miss Trail resumes the chronicle of her stay In 
Italy In November 1826 : — 

'' After passing between four and five months 
at Florence, I set off for Rome in company with 
the Hon. Miss F. Mackenzie of Seaforth, and our 
celebrated painter, Wllkie. We chose the route 
by Perugia, as being on the whole the most in- 
teresting, and also as possessing the best roads — 
no trifling consideration at this season of the year 
after very heavy rains. 


''On the 2 2d, about half-past seven In the morn- 
ing, Miss Mackenzie and I got packed into our 
vehicle, and went to take up our friend, Mr. Wilkie, 
who, we found, had been awaiting us nearly two 
hours. However this was a small evil ; but at the 
city gate it was found that his passport was not in 
order. We were now in a sad dilemma. It was 
impossible to remain without the gate till mid-day, 
till which time we were told the passport could not 
be signed, and it was equally out of the question 
to return within it, and have all the same work 
to go over again. So after a short consultation 
it was resolved that Miss Mackenzie and I should 
proceed with the luggage, and that Mr. Wilkie 
should follow us in a light cabriolet as soon as 
possible. The day was fine, and though so late 
in the season, the country still looked beautiful, 
the grey olive, the green ilex, and the various 
shades of yellow, red, and brown on the still 
unscattered foliage of the other trees, gave a 
charming effect. We immediately began to as- 
cend, and at a few miles from the town looked 
back upon Florence, embosomed in wooded hills. 
It seemed from thence well to merit the title of 
'' Fair," which has been so often bestowed upon 
it. We began now to descend, however, and of 
course lost sight of it, I cannot say with a sad 
heart, but yet many pleasing recollections and some 


tender regrets lingered round it. I could not say 
farewell without a wish to revisit it, and offering up 
a prayer for the few kind friends who had rendered 
my stay there agreeable. 

"After w^e lost sight of Florence there was little 
of Interest that presented itself on our first day's 
journey, excepting here and there a convent pic- 
turesquely situated on a rising ground ; for, to do 
the inmates of these mansions justice, they have 
generally had the sagacity and taste to select the 
most beautiful spots for their habitation, and have 
sometimes charming views from some apartments 
of the convent ; but from sharing which, the eye 
of woman is of course excluded. I often feel In- 
clined to be a little angry ; but after all, It is but 
fair that if the monks are shut out from many of 
the pleasures of society, they should enjoy as much 
as possible those which nature and solitude afford. 
Peace be with them ; I envy them not ! 

" Betw^een one and two o'clock we stopped for a 
few minutes at a wretched cafe In a town which, 
from its size, must, I think, have afforded better. 
There we got some Indifferent coffee without milk, 
sour bread, stale eggs, &c., but hunger made us 
put up with bad fare ; and w^e proceeded onwards 
towards MontevarchI, where we passed the night 
in an albergo outside the walls, and situated 


beautifully on a river bank and in sight of a 
seemingly old and most picturesque convent. 

** As we arrived early I was tempted by the 
beauty of the scenery to take a ramble, and after 
doing so, and making a little sketch, I returned 
to the albergo, where I found Mr. Wilkie had 
rejoined us, and both he and Miss Mackenzie 
were seated beside a fine blazing wood fire, when 
we enjoyed ourselves, after a very comfortable 
dinner, by reading a few chapters of Walter Scott's 
last novel. 

" We then went to bed, out of which we were 
called at a very early hour next morning, and 
proceeded on our journey. 

" As the grey dawn began to disappear before the 
beams of the rising sun, our eyes were saluted by 
a view of the Apennines, with their tops covered 
with snow, which formed a contrast we in more 
northern climes seldom behold, with the varied 
tints of the trees. Midway up the mountain, the 
clouds were rolling in large volumes, while the 
snowy tops were basking in the full rays of the 
orb of day, and reminded me of the beautiful lines 
of Goldsmith — 

" ' Though round its breast the rolling clouds are spread, 
Eternal sunshine settles on its head.' 

" At mid-day we stopped for two hours at Arezzo, 


the birthplace of Petrarch. After getting break- 
fast, we rambled a little through the town, and 
went to the Cathedral, which stands on a fine site 
overlooking the town. It is a handsome building, 
and inside it contains some curious monuments ; 
amongst the rest, I observed one to Gregory IX., 
and a high altar wrought in the manner of a monu- 
ment. There are several pictures by modern artists 
of merit ; among others, one which is much ad- 
mired, by Benvenuti, of the martyrdom of a saint. 

" We walked about a little and saw the outside 
of the court of justice, a curious-looking old build- 
ing. We then returned to the albergo, where we 
found our vetturino ready to depart, so we set off. 
The weather was very disagreeable, and we amused 
ourselves the best way we could, with reading and 
chat, till we arrived at Camuscia, where we slept 
at a poor inn. Camuscia lies just below Cortona, 
one of the most ancient cities of Etruria, and of 
which we got a sight next morning, at a little 
distance, situated on a hill. 

^* We were now drawing near the scene so cele- 
brated by the operations of Hannibal, and it was 
a disappointment that it rained heavily all the time 
we were passing by the Lake Thrasymenus, which 
prevented us from enjoying its beauties. We 
reached Perugia late, but there we had a com- 
fortable dinner and good beds. We got up next 


morning as soon as It was light, and went out to 
see the pictures of Pietro Perugino, justly cele- 
brated both for his own works and as beino- the 


master of the inimitable Raphael. His works ap- 
pear to me full of beautiful simplicity, nature, and 
expression ; indeed It seems difficult to distinguish 
between his and the earlier productions of his 
scholar ; and the finest parts of the works of Peru- 
gino are often, though most probably unjustly, 
attributed to Raphael. The heads, especially, 
have a great deal of the same style about them. 
When we returned to the albergo, we got break- 
fast and then proceeded to a church a little out of 
town, to see some other beautiful things by the 
same master ; from whence also there was a mag- 
nificent view, which we enjoyed much, as the 
weather had again cleared up, and the sun was 
shedding all his glory over the beautiful landscape. 
Having admired everything, both inside and out- 
side this convent church, we returned to the city 
gate, where we met our vettimno. After a pleasant 
journey, we reached Foligno for the night, but 
too late to see anything of the town. The albergo 
was indifferent enough, or, at least, our accommo- 
dation in it ; but we found out that they were 
expecting no less a personage than Jerome Bona- 
parte, so we were obliged to content ourselves with 
second-rate fare. 



"We were ushered Into an immense hall without 
a fire ; however, when we insisted on having that 
comfort, we were led down stairs to another which 
seemed common property, being shared with chil- 
dren, dogs, and servants of both sexes. We got 
it cleared a little, and had dinner at one end of a 
large wooden table that might, I believe, have 
served thirty persons at least ; the fireside was 
ornamented with our sheets, which Miss Mackenzie 
took particular care should both be clean and well 
dried, neither of which seemed very common, and 
sometimes when they were told they had been 
used, they did not even attempt to deny the fact. 
During the night it blew a sirocco, and early next 
morning, our window being blown open, I was 
astonished, on approaching to shut it, to find the 
air quite hot — the temperature was entirely changed 
from the intense cold we had experienced before 
we left Florence and during the former part of our 

" Sabbath morning, we set off before light ; early 
in the morning passed the temple of Clitumnus ; 
we alighted a few minutes to see this small piece 
of ancient architecture, though not of the best 
line of the art; it is situated on a rock almost 
overhanging a stream. After resting in the fore- 
noon outside the walls of a considerable town, I 
believe Spoleto, we entered some beautiful scenery 


like our Scotch glens, but richer perhaps in wood, 
whose varied tints glowed In all the luxuriance of 
autumn, though now winter. Such Is the felicity 
of this climate. Lovely Italia! thy Maker's hand 
hath formed thee fair, but sunk as thou art now 
by moral degradation, darkened by superstition, 
and depressed by tyranny, I would not give the 
most barren spot In my native land for all thy 
enchanting beauties, which while they ravish the 
eye, make (by sad contrast) the heart recoil the 
more from thy mental horizon. About sunset we 
entered Terni two or three miles distant from the 
celebrated falls. I wished much to see them ; 
but the weather being so wet, and both my com- 
panions having seen them, we resolved to pass on ; 
and next morning accordingly proceeded towards 
Narni, a small town most picturesquely situated 
on the side of a hill ; there we were obliged to 
have two bovl or oxen attached In front of our 
horses, to aid in pulling our vehicle up the steep. 
Having gone through the town, we continued to 
travel over very high ground, which commanded 
extensive views of the surrounding country, which 
was wild and mountainous ; at midday we stopped 
about two hours at Civlta Castellana ; a wretched 
breakfast we got; but it was amply compensated 
by a view of the magnificent scenery around. 
Mr. Wllkie conducted me to a bridge just at the 


entrance, from whence, with his assistance, I took 
a sketch. 

'' On our return to the albergo we found Miss 
Mackenzie and our vehicle had both deserted us. 
Miss Mackenzie had gone out to sketch, and our 
vettu7'ino, from a blunder, followed her ; however, 
we found both waitinof us at a brldo^e at the other 
side of the town. From thence till we reached 
Nepi the country was not particularly interesting. 
At Nepi we passed the night — our accommodation 
very indifferent. How strange that they appear 
worse as they approach the capital ; but such is 
the fact — our bed-chamber was a great desolate 
room opening from the common hall, where were 
assembled travellers of all descriptions and different 
countries. I found our door did not fasten pro- 
perly, and to prevent any unwelcome intrusion I 
set a heavy chair behind it, and we kept a light 
burning ; but the night passed quietly, no banditti, 
no adventure, and early on the morning of the 
28th we proceeded towards Rome. 

'* We soon entered the Campania or great plain 
which surrounds this far-famed city ; but it seems 
a desert : scarce a habitation is to be seen for 
many miles. Man has fled its noxious precinctF, 
for many months infected by malaria. At mid- 
day, we rested at a solitary mansion, the squalid 
countenances of whose inhabitants told but too 


plainly the unhealthiness of its situation, and on 
enquiry we found that the master has suffered 
from malaria three of the summer months. 

" A few miles from this spot, from the stupidity 
of our driver, our carozza was completely over- 
turned ; but most providentially we escaped with a 
few bruises and scratches, though the glass was 
broken to pieces, and I was undermost. I believe 
I suffered least, from the circumstance of my being 
at the moment on my knees in the bottom of the 
carriage enjoying my first glimpse of the dome of 
St. Peter's ; such things appear to us too often 
accidental, but I would acknowledge it as an addi- 
tional proof of the kind care of my Heavenly 
Father, whose gracious hand hath conducted me 
safely through all my wanderings. In a few hours 
more we entered Rome" {28th November 1826). 

Arrived In Rome, Miss Trail devoted herself to 
the immediate object of her journey thither. Hav- 
ing established herself In a quiet apartment in the 
vicinity of the Vatican, it was in that treasury of 
art that she spent many hours daily, studying the 
works of the great masters, whose chefs-d'oeuvre 
are the admiration and wonder of all who behold 

In May 1827, she left Rome, in company with 
the Rev. Mr. Middleton and his wife, and travelled 


with them to Venice, and round by the north of 
Italy to Parma, where she spent four months; after 
which she returned to Rome and there spent the 
greater part of the year 1828. 

During this time she copied Raphael's repre- 
sentation of the miracle of Bolsena ; and in her 
letters she alludes to the impression made upon 
her by this picture, while her own religious belief 
was wavering. 

We here leave her to tell her own tale In her 
letters to Father Glover, S.J. Her conversion 
now took place, and w^as the great turning-point 
of her life, changing its whole aspect and aim. 

It naturally brought much suffering upon her, 
not only by reason of her own mental anxieties, 
but on account of the sorrow her change of relicrlon 

o o 

could not fail to inflict on those most dear to her. 
But we have been told that '' Sorrow endureth for 
a night, but joy cometh in the morning;" and so 
it proved in the case of Miss Trail. Her whole 
life, from the day of her reception into the Church, 
was one ceaseless act of praise and thanksgiving 
to God for the wonderful elft of faith. 

( ^7T ) 



Letter I. 

"Rev. and dear Father, — I take up my pen 
at your suggestion to give a short sketch of my 
religious life from childhood, and thus as it were 
to trace step by step (as far as memory will serve 
me) all the way by which a gracious Providence 
led me, till that happy day when tie brought me 
into the Ark of His own true Church, where I 
have at length found that rest which, like Noah's 
dove, I had sought elsewhere in vain. 

'* And while I recall to remembrance the good- 
ness and longsuffering of my God, and my own 
wanderings and perverseness, may my heart swell 
with gratitude, while it sinks low in humiliation and 
exclaims with one of old, ' Lord, I am not worthy 
of one of the least of all Thy mercies ; ' and may 
this short account of the bounty of my Heavenly 
Father, and my own misery, be to the praise and 


glory of His grace, who hath * called me out of 
darkness into His marvellous light.' 

*' To no one can I so properly address this, as 
to yourself, honoured Father, to whom the secrets 
of my conscience were first made known, and who, 
therefore, can estimate more justly than any one 
else the amazing wisdom and loving-kindness of 
Jehovah, in adapting the dispensations of His 
Providence to my peculiar character and turn of 

'* You are aware that my father is a clergyman 
of the Presbyterian sect ; and few, I believe, have 
been more justly esteemed, both for his ministerial 
and private virtue ; — pious without enthusiasm ; 
just without severity ; sincere without rudeness ; 
mild and patient, yet firm ; a kind master, and in- 
dulgent parent, he seldom, I may say never, found 
fault, excepting when moral delinquency called 
forth his just reproof. Liberal in his sentiments, 
charitable to the poor, the peacemaker among his 
friends, faithful himself in the discharge of his 
parochial duties, I never heard him blame or criti- 
cise others who were more remiss ; indeed, detrac- 
tion of all sorts (even though couched under a witty 
sarcasm) he was sure to disapprove of, and though 
fond of an innocent jest, nothing approaching to im- 
purity was ever heard from his lips or countenanced 
in his presence. Of my dear mother I need only 


say, she is worthy of being the partner of my 
honoured father; beloved by him, her children, 
her dependants and friends, almost, I may say, 
the idol of every guest who visits at her house. 

" You will forgive me for paying this tribute to 
my beloved parents, for whom, while I weep over 
the errors of their faith, I can never cease to 
feel the strongest affection and highest respect. 
To them I owe that I was brought up in the 
fear of the Lord, and that as soon as my infant 
lips could lisp the name of father, I was taught 
to raise their accents to Him who is in heaven. 
I well remember that my dear mother used fre- 
quently, especially on Sunday evenings, to call 
my sisters and me together and speak to us on 
the love of the Saviour till both our hearts and 
eyes would overflow. As we advanced a little in 
years, my father himself took the charge of 
instructing us in our moral and religious duties, 
and continued to do so regularly till we were 
about fourteen. Thus we were taught both by 
precept and example to regard religion as the one 
thing needful. Though a very lively child, and 
when with others the gayest of the gay, I was 
always fond of solitude; and when very young 
often did I retire into some quiet nook or unseen 
corner, where, gazing on the starry heavens or 
the lovely moon, I would muse on the angelic 


inhabitants of those bright regions, or think on 
the goodness of God who had hung out all these 
lights, as I then thought, solely for our benefit. 

'' My great delight was musing and reading the 
scripture histories of the Old and New Testaments, 
the Psalms, some parts of the prophecies and the 
last discourse of our Saviour to His disciples. 
The words, ' In My Father's house are many 
mansions : I go to prepare a place for you,' were 
the frequent subject of my meditations and prayers, 
in which two exercises I early experienced great 
pleasure. Prayer was, I think, my refuge In all 
my troubles, the first Instance of which that I 
distinctly remember was when, I suppose, I must 
have been between eight and nine years old. My 
eldest brother, who was then an infant, had pushed 
a small pebble up his nose, to extract which we 
had to send for a surgeon ; meanwhile my mother, 
&c., were In great distress ; on seeing which I 
retired into a place apart, and with great earnest- 
ness entreated God for my little brother ; and I 
think it was before I was much older, that I used 
to beseech God to pour out upon me the spirit 
of grace and supplication, to give me a very tender 

'' I think It was soon after this period too, that on 
reading some religious books, particularly * Todd 
on Death,' I became deeply impressed with the 


necessity of leading a religious life if I would be 
happy hereafter. I immediately set about many 
practices of devotion, such as frequent set hours 
for prayer, reading the Scriptures, &c., but my 
devotion was by fits and starts, and sometimes, I 
fear, altogether forgotten ; which then caused me 
much unhappiness. 

^^ One day that I was alone, offering up prayer, 
but I believe, much in the spirit of the Pharisee, 
an Internal voice (for I never imagined I heard 
it with my outward ears), exclaimed, ' Thou shalt 
not be always thus.' The Impression was so 
strong that I instantly started from my knees, 
and the meaning conveyed to me was, ' Thou shalt 
be no longer happy in thy self-conceited sanctity.' 
I entered the room a proud Pharisee, I left it a 
conscience-smitten sinner ; I think I must then 
have been little more than twelve years old. From 
that day, for upwards of two years, I was one of 
the most miserable of human beings ; I saw myself 
an undone sinner, I knew there was an Almighty 
Saviour; but 'would He be merciful to such a 
wretch as I ?' was the heartrending question, to 
which I dared not reply in the affirmative. I was a 
Calvinlst, and I thought myself already numbered 
with the damned, but I felt I deserved it, and 
as far as I can remember, I never in the midst 
of my misery charged God with injustice. I even 


recollect that in reading * Clopstock's Messiah/ 
wherein he describes the different characters of 
the lost spirits, he represents one as having been 
the last to quit the ranks of the blessed, and as 
spending his time in hell, not like the others in 
blaspheming God and maliciously devising the 
ruin of man, but in mourning his loss of heaven. 
I fell down on my knees and implored that if, as 
I dreaded, I must Inevitably be lost, I might never 
at least speak against God, but only blame myself, 
and mourn my having shut myself out from His 
blessed presence. I began with intense anxiety 
to study religious works, and some of them on 
the most profound subjects, others calculated to 
awaken the careless sinner, neither of them adapted 
to my then state of mind ; but I had no one to 
direct me, and I swallowed alike milk and strong 
meat which I was not able to digest : thus I 
derived little benefit and received little comfort. 
Is my heart renewed ? Have I true faith ? Am 
I one of the elect ? Have I not perhaps com- 
mitted the sin against the Holy Ghost ? were 
questions upon which my mind perpetually dwelt, 
and drove me almost to despair. The agony of 
my mind was often such, that I withdrew where 
I was sure no human eye could discover me, and 
there, prostrate on the earth, I have groaned and 
wept for hours ; I should have welcomed death. 


had I not dreaded hell, and I only feared lest in 
some awful moment of temptation I might destroy 
myself: but God, infinite in mercy, though He 
permitted me to have many a fearful struggle, yet 
would not suffer me to be tempted above what I 
was able to bear ; a ray of light now and then shot 
across the gloom, darted from some of the sweet 
promises of the Gospel ; hope, though darkened, 
was not altogether extinct : it sometimes whispered, 
' Though now in misery, God will yet deliver 
you.' One text of Isaiah often brought me con- 
solation : ' Thus saith the Lord to the man that 
feareth the Lord, and hearkeneth unto the voice 
of his servant, who sitteth in darkness and hath 
no light, let him hope in the Lord and stay him- 
self on his God.' This I endeavoured to do, and 
as it were to hope against hope. 

" The merciful arranorements of Providence, about 
this time, placed in my way duties which in a 
great measure forced my mind from almost constant 
meditation on itself and turned its energies into 
a totally different channel : but as this brings me 
to the close of one period of my history — that of 
my childhood — it reminds me also, that it is time 
to conclude this long epistle, with which I almost 
fear to have exhausted your patience, notwith- 
standing the kind interest you are pleased to 


take In one who considers it her honour and her 
happiness to subscribe herself, — Your obedient and 
affectionate daughter in Jesus Christ. 

" Anne Agnes Trail. 

^^ February 1829." 

Letter 1 1. 

"• Rev. and dear Father. — In my letter I gave 
you an account of the first fourteen years of my 
Hfe ; and I now enter upon that period when the 
mind, full of ardour and of hope, usually regards 
the world as an earthly paradise, and deceived by 
these false Ideas, pursues the vain dream of worldly 
bliss, and often awakes but too late to the sad 
reality that *A11 is vanity and vexation of spirit.' 
I no doubt shared to a certain deo^ree in the o-eneral 
delusion ; but God had early impressed deeply 
upon my mind,' ' Arise, and depart, for this is 
not your rest, because it is polluted ;' and had 
made me experimentally to feel that nothing but 
the favour of God could make me happy ; it was 
indeed my want of certainty as to possessing this 
favour, which caused all my misery, the depth of 
which I can hardly now recall without sensations 
of horror. What might have been the consequence 
had my mind been left much longer to prey 
entirely on itself, I know not, but a gracious Pro- 


vidence, without affording me any direct spiritual 
comfort, yet provided effectually for my relief 

'' For upwards of seven years, my dear mother, 
finding her other household cares too great to 
allow her to attend as she wished to our education, 
had employed an accomplished female to instruct 
us in the various branches of knowledge with 
which It Is thought necessary for women to be 
acquainted. A few months after I was fourteen she 
thought it proper to part with this lady, (my elder 
sister being at the time in England), to consign 
to me the instruction of my younger brothers 
and sisters. This occupied me at least eight hours 
a day ; and as I was most anxious for their 
improvement, my mind was as it were forced 
from itself, and by degrees I became more calm, 
and at least less miserable. 

"In the course of the same summer we had a 
visit from a cousin who had lately become very 
religious, full of enthusiastic piety, and adorned 
with all the n^entle and more amiable virtues. His 
only pleasure seemed to be either to converse 
with God in prayer, or of God to others. I was, 
perhaps, his most deeply interested, as well as 
his most frequent listener, and I began to long 
for the same assurance that he seemed to enjoy, 
of being one of the elect of God. To attain this 
desirable end I naturally thought the best means 


was to Imitate him as well as I could, and I 
adopted most of his opinions both as to doctrine 
and practice. With respect to the former, his senti- 
ments were what are generally termed evangelical ; 
and as to the latter, his Ideas were very strict, 
particularly with regard to an entire renunciation 
of worldly pleasures and amusements, a thing not 
very difficult for one w^ho was removed from almost 
every temptation of entering into them, as I then 
w^as. However, though I thought he was right on 
the whole, I tried to persuade myself that there 
could be no harm In my seeing a little of such 
things, that I might judge for myself, which I 
was always most anxious to do. I confined my 
reading almost entirely to works on religion, having 
entirely excluded novels, romances, plays, &c., as 
either pernicious or useless ; I even for a consider- 
able time gave up reading poetry, of which I was 
passionately fond, that I might bring my imagina- 
tion Into proper subjection. 

" Thus passed away three or four years, till, when 
I was seventeen or eighteen, I went to pay a visit 
to my mother's relatives in the north of England. 
I remained with them a year and a half, during 
which time, though little favourable, I fear, to my 
growth In Internal piety, I still adhered conscien- 
tiously to what I considered my religious duty. 
The first hour of every day I spent In prayer and 


reading the Scriptures ; again, a short time before 
going to bed, and the whole Sunday after attending 
church, I devoted to the study of books on reHgion. 
On week days I employed my time, of which I was 
then entire mistress, in cultivating my taste for 
music and drawing, especially the latter; and in 
improving my mind by the study of scientific works 
on botany, astronomy, chemistry, and geology. I 
also acquired a little general knowledge of the 
rudiments of natural philosophy, which afforded 
abundant food for my natural disposition towards 
ratiocination, a disposition which, if under the 
guidance of the Spirit of God it has at length 
been a great instrument in bringing me to the 
knowledge of the truth, has likewise, when left to 
its own proud exercise, led me several times to the 
verge of infidelity. The last few months of my 
stay in England being passed in a city, and with 
relatives who seemed to live for little else than 
amusement, I was immersed in a vortex of gaiety, 
which produced a deadening influence upon my 
mind that it did not recover for some time after 
it was placed in a more healthy atmosphere. For 
one thing, however, I cannot cease to bless God, 
that though I was then a good deal in the society 
of gay and fashionable young men, and of course 
had my share of attention and adulation, my aver- 
sion to the thouorht of marrias^e was rather in- 



creased by the account I received of the general 
character and conduct of men of the world ; of the 
corruption of which I had till then little Idea. On 
my return home, I resumed, In conjunction with my 
eldest sister, the office of Instructing the younger 
ones. I was entirely removed from all the follies 
of the world, but I had tasted of the Circean cup, 
and my heart felt a little hankering after it for a 
few months, till I got hold of a sermon on ' Lovers 
of pleasure more than lovers of God,' which so 
completely convinced me of the evil tendency of 
what are generally termed aniuseme7its^ that I made 
a determined resolution to renounce them all ; and 
from that day never set my foot in an English 
theatre or public ball-room, gave up playing at 
cards or any other games of chance, and almost 
considered it as a sin for any one to do so. 

*' These sentiments were soon after streno^thened 
by the arrival of a cousin (sister to the one I before 
mentioned), endowed with the same piety as her 
brother; and having passed through affliction, which 
had entirely weaned her affections from the world, 
she endeavoured to Inspire us all with the same 
contempt for it, and the same ardent devotion to 
Christ crucified. She was, I believe, useful to us 
all, but more particularly to me, in again arousing 
In me a lively interest for my eternal salvation, and 
an ardent desire after Christian perfection, which 


from that time I think I never lost, but which only 
served again to plunge me into frequent distress. 
I had most firmly embraced the principle, that faith 
alone is necessary to salvation ; but I believed, like- 
wise, that my faith, if sincere, must inevitably be 
productive of a holy life, and finding myself still 
defective in that perfection after which the Christian 
is urged to aspire, I often fell into doubt whether 
I believed at all or not, and who was to solve for 
me this tremendously important question, upon 
which was to hang my eternal destiny ? I could 
only cast myself trembling into the hands of my 
Saviour and say, ' Lord, if I have faith, increase 
it ; if I have not yet obtained it, bestow it on me.' 
* My God, if I love Thee not as I would, or as 
Thou deservest to be loved, at least I desire to 
love Thee above all things, and I desire that I may 
never be happy in anything short of Thee ; that I 
may never rest satisfied till I have attained the 
true knowledge of Thee.' Indeed, however much 
of mental sufferinor I have had to endure throuorh- 
out my life, I think I can mark this, that I never 
so much prayed to be delivered from 2V, as from its 
catcse ; which I always felt assured must be either 
sin, ignorance, or unbelief, for it requires but one 
glance at the Christian religion to perceive that it 
was intended to proclaim * Peace even on earth to 
men of crood will.' 



'* My dear cousin, after a stay with us of about 
six months, returned to Ireland, carrying me with 
her, and there I remained for the space of nearly 
two years ; and I look back to It with peculiar 
pleasure, as having been profitable both for my 
mental and moral Improvement. Animated by the 
bright example of my cousins, I wished only to 
imitate them, and heartily united In most of their 
works of active charity, devoting several hours two 
or three times a week to Instruct the poor children 
In the ladles' charity school ; one or two hours 
more every Sunday, and frequently on week days, 
to visit the hospital for the sick, to strive to carry 
comfort to these children of affliction; to teach those 
to read who had not previously learnt ; to distribute 
religious tracts to those who had ; to exhort the 
careless or Immoral to repentance and amendment ; 
and to give general religious Instruction by read- 
inor a sermon to the whole assembled tof^ether. At 
other times we visited the poor In their own houses, 
and there, I acknowledge with gratitude to God, I 
learned to feel for human misery, and to deny my- 
self almost every superfluity, that I might have 
wherewithal to relieve at least a small portion of 
the distressing poverty with which I was sur- 
rounded ; for who could visit the wretched hovels 
of the Irish peasantry and not feel that It was In- 
dulging a culpable selfishness to throw" away even 


a small sum upon folly or vanity, while numbers 
around were in want of the bare necessaries of 
existence ! Meanwhile I was no less diliorent in 


cultivating internal devotion ; almost all my spare 
hours were spent in reading and in prayer, in which 
latter exercise I was often so fervent, that my dear 
cousin, who was generally in the next room em- 
ployed in the same way, was at length compelled 
to entreat me to restrain my vehemence. She ob- 
served that my mind was in distress, and I acknow- 
ledged it. I remember she replied, * You feel in 
danger of despair, / of presumption.' Ah, my dear 
sir, I believe every thinking Protestant is in 
danger of being shipwrecked either on the one or 
the other ; for he must either, self-satisfied as to 
his own discoveries of the truth, believe himself 
privileged, either by nature or by grace, above 
every other ; or, mistrusting his own conclusions, 
and equally doubtful of those of others, he is but 
too likely to fall into despair or infidelity. To 
God's grace alone I owe that I did not fall into 
either extreme, but He alone knows how near I 
have often been. 

'* I had almost neglected to mention a temptation 
(for I cannot regard it as anything else) which I 
had just on my first going to Ireland. We had 
on board the ship in crossing the Channel, a very 
clever young gentleman, a Socinian ; and as usual 


we soon began to talk on religion, and we had a 
long discussion, in which I thought I had con- 
troverted his arguments ; but they recurred to me 
afterwards, and excited doubts in my mind with 
respect to the Holy Spirit ; so much so, that for 
several Sundays, feeling that I could not con- 
scientiously say, * I believe in the Holy Ghost,' 
I always missed that part of the creed when read 
in the Church ; but my unbelief, I hope, was not 
wilful. I was confounded and distressed to find 
myself In any doubt upon a point which I con- 
sidered as fundamental and which I had hitherto 
regarded as certain ; though I had not read any- 
thing In direct proof. I Immediately read Jones 
on the Trinity, which fully satisfied me, and from 
that time I never had any further misgiving with 
respect to the Blessed Trinity. Rest, however, I 
found none. Being naturally of a very Independent 
mind, strengthened by the circumstances In which 
I had been placed ; and having imbibed as a 
principle that I ought to search for myself in the 
Scriptures for the proof of every individual point 
of faith, you may well imagine I found it no easy 
matter to satisfy myself. Having many friends of 
different persuasions, each desirous of drawing me 
to their own party, I had read and examined the 
tenets of various sects, comparing them likewise 
with Scripture ; and I came to the conclusion, 


that all had erred, and that each approximated 
near to the truth upon some particular point, either 
of doctrine or practice. These being my senti- 
ments, I thought I might as well remain in the 
communion of the church in which I was edu- 
cated, as I could discover none that on the whole 
appeared better ; but as I was still at liberty to 
adopt what opinions and practices I chose, I did 
not scruple to select what I thought best out of 
each, believing this must lead me nearest to primi- 
tive and perfect Christianity, and I wished to be 
called by no other name but that of Christian. 
One good I gained by this was that I avoided 
all that prejudice which is the natural result of 
party spirit ; and that I regarded with charity all 
whom I believed sincerely to love the Lord Jesus. 
And thus were removed some of the barriers which 
might have prevented me from seeing the truth, 
when the Lord's good time was come for placing 
it before me. How true it is that, ' The Lord 
leadeth the blind by a way they know not.' 

" I cannot but frequently look back with wonder 
and admiration at my own path, when I mark 
how nicely every, even the minutest circumstances 
of my early life were adjusted to forward the 
Lord's gracious designs with respect to me ; how 
by degrees I was taught, by my own bitter ex- 
perience, that the principles I had, however con- 


scientiously, acted upon, were unable to conduct 
me to that certainty of faith, which alone can 
convey peace to the soul that Is anxiously Inquir- 
ing after truth ; again, how my early sentiments 
on the point of marriage, strengthened, from a 
diligent perusal of the writings of St. Paul, by the 
firm persuasion, that in a single life I could devote 
myself more entirely to the service of God, pre- 
served me from many of those entanglements by 
which the youthful heart Is led but too frequently, 
if not into sin, at least into folly ; whilst the affec- 
tions are kept from that object which alone can 
fully satisfy them. Further, how by little and little 
I was inured to opposition, learned to contemn 
the opinion of the world when it ran counter to 
what I believed the will of God ; and to sacrifice 
even my dearest passion, the love of praise, at 
the shrine of conscience. Whilst in Ireland I 
gave up, even in private, an exercise of which I 
was very fond, and in which I thought myself to 
excel— viz., dancing — that I might the more readily 
excuse myself from entering into societies whose 
sole end was that amusement, and to which, much 
to the mortification of some of my friends, I deter- 
minately refused to go. 

"On leavlno- Ireland it was determined that in- 
stead of returning home I should go straight to 
London for the purpose of improving my talent 



for painting, by affording me the means of study- 
ing under some first-rate artist. There I was re- 
ceived by relatives (whose kindness must ever be 
engraved on my heart) of rank and fortune far 
superior to me, as if I had been their own child. 
Their house, carriage, and servants, were all at my 
command. I found myself in a situation which 
would have been the envy of most young persons. 
Placed in the midst of affluence and splendour, 
having it in my power to be introduced into some 
of the first society in town, and to enter into all 
its diversions, God enabled me to stand firm to the 
resolution I had made, and after a stay of almost 
six months, I left London without having once 
entered a place of public amusement, or even hav- 
ing attended a single private fete. I cannot say, 
however, that I effected this without some severe 
contentions with my own spirit. Too deeply in- 
terested in religion to feel the renunciation of 
worldly pleasure any deprivation, I was yet keenly 
alive to the love of praise, and I well knew that 
my principles and practice, on these and some other 
points, were at utter variance with those of many 
whose esteem and goodwill it was both my wish 
and interest to cultivate ; and once, especially, I 
remember, that it cost me some hours of painful 
internal combat and much earnest prayer, to come 
to the resolution of refusing an invitation, and 


giving such a reason as I felt assured would be a 
tacit condemnation of the person who gave It, and 
who was one of those who had shown me most 
kindness and attention. Conscience, however, at 
last gained the victory, and I had never cause to 
repent it, even on a worldly account; for I found 
that by consistency I gained the esteem and con- 
fidence of those even who regarded my strictness 
as blameable, or at least unnecessary ; and I had 
the happiness some years after of receiving the 
acknowledgment, from some of my friends, ^ that 
my example and conversation then was one of the 
most powerful causes of turning their attention to 
the one thine needful.' 

** Returned to the bosom of my own family after 
so long an absence, I need not say I was received 
with every demonstration of tender affection ; but 
it seemed the will of Providence that I was never 
again for any length of time to enjoy the sweets of 
a retired and peaceful home. A friend who was 
much Interested in our welfare, and who knew that 
my father's circumstances, though comfortable, were 
not affluent, and who likewise thought It a pity that 
my talent should be thrown away, proposed to me 
to take some likenesses for her, for which I was 
offered a handsome compensation. Having over- 
come the foolish pride, which first made me feel a 
repugnance to the idea of doing anything for money, 


by the reflection that God had not bestowed on me 
the talent, and afforded me the means of improving 
it, for nothing ; that as I did not wish to marry, the 
most honourable thing I could do w^ould be to 
render myself entirely independent of my relatives ; 
and I think that the words of the Apostle, ' Work- 
ing with your own hands that you may have to give 
to him that needeth,' had no slight influence on my 
determination. From that time I continued to 
exercise my pencil, but more in a private way, for 
favour, than as a public artist. However, 1 soon 
became known, and one of our greatest connois- 
seurs in the art in our Scotch capital, begged me 
to do a set of miniatures for him, which occupied 
me nearly two winters. This naturally led me to 
reside frequently in town ; and there I sought to 
cultivate chiefly the acquaintance of those who were 
most noted for their piety and zeal, and sought 
most earnestly after every means of religious in- 
struction ; exhorting at the same time every friend 
whom I thought to be careless, to seek after his 
soul's salvation ; and defending at all times, and in 
every society, the cause of religion from the attacks 
of the worldling or the infidel. But my ovv^n breast 
was not the seat of peace : constantly harassed by 
doubts for which I could find no solution ; some- 
times a prey to fears, which however legitimate, I 
was told was a want of faith ; and thus, instead of 


relief, I was plunged deeper Into distress. Think- 
ing myself too unworthy, I had for nearly two years 
abstained altogether from approaching the com- 
munion ; but as I had been always changing place, 
this had passed unobserved, as I could not bring 
myself to open my mind to any one. At length, 
however, a friend speaking to me about an ap- 
proaching solemnity, and taking it for granted I 
was to go, I acknowledged to her the fact. She 
was surprised I believe, as I had been for years 
noted for a more than common devotion to reli- 
gion. She asked me If I would like to converse on 
the subject with the Rev. Dr. Gordon, a clergyman 
of great celebrity both for his talents and piety. I 
consented, though with some reluctance ; he was 
written to, but ere he could find time to see me, 
the day arrived. I went to church early, and re- 
mained till the evening (at least eight hours), with- 
out any refreshment excepting a morsel of biscuit 
I had carried with me ; but the mind was too in- 
tensely occupied to think of the body. With a 
heart almost broken with grief, I saw hundreds 
receive the Sacrament, which I longed to partake 
of, but dared not. 

"The day at length arrived fixed for my seeing 
Dr. Gordon, and I approached his gate with nearly 
as great fear and trembling, as, for the first time, 
I did your confessional ; so naturally averse was 


my proud heart to acknowledge Its wretchedness. 
I prayed to God, however, several days before 
and all the way there, to enable me to do so; but 
when I revealed the state of my mind, I found 
my pastor little able to help me. How could he? 
his own heart, I believe, often shared in the same 
difficulties. Ah, what a heartrending thing for a 
clergyman to be In any doubt whether he him- 
self knows the truth he is bound by his office to 
teach to others! His kindness, notwithstanding, 
encouraged me to return, and I did so several 
times ; yet with little effect ; excepting that on the 
subject of the Eucharist, my apprehensions were 
entirely removed, by Dr. Gordon succeeding in 
persuading me most thoroughly, that there was 
nothing In it, but the simple elements of bread 
and wine, to give a more lively representation of 
our blessed Saviour's passion, than could be done 
by words ; and thus to excite our faith more 
strongly ; and that. In short, there was nothing 
more awful In Q^olno: to the communion, than in 
putting ourselves in the immediate presence of 
God, by prayer or reading the Scriptures. He 
likewise greatly removed my fears that I might 
be in, or left to fall into, a state of reprobation, 
but still I was unsatisfied. Intense search and 
reflection upon this subject for two months, (during 
which time I frequently did not sleep more than 


three or four hours), reduced me so thin, that It 
was observed by my friends, though they did not 
know the cause. Alone or In society, by day or 
by night, I may almost say sleeping or waking, my 
thoughts revolved but on one subject ; all others 
for me had entirely lost their Interest. It would 
be Impossible for me now to state all the doubts 
and difficulties which suggested themselves to my 
mind ; indeed I must now regard many of them 
as mere temptations ; but unable to distinguish 
these from my own thoughts, mistaking the fear 
of unbelief as being Itself that deadly sin, advised 
not to reason with my doubts, whilst at the same 
time the reasonings of my own feeble Intellect, 
or the meaning of Scripture was to be my only 
rule of what I ought to believe ; I often felt myself 
like a ship at sea, with a compass Indeed, but 
without a rudder, and without a pilot, or like a 
drowning person, catching in vain at something 
to keep his head above the waves. 

"Yet, In the midst of this dismal chaos, God 
gave me sometimes to enjoy a sweet sense of His 
gracious presence in prayer, and a firm dependence 
upon that promise, * Then shall we know if we 
follow on to know the Lord.' The hope that I 
should, at some future day, attain, through God's 
mercy, to the knowledge of the whole truth, 
afforded me a degree of consolation ; but I could 


not call it peace. It increased, however, with my 
advancement in practical devotion ; in which I hope 
God enabled me to make some small progress 
during the three following years ; the greater part 
of which time I passed in Edinburgh where I had 
every means of grace at my command, that could 
be afforded in the Protestant faith. My great 
delight was in hearing sermons, and attending 
missionary and prayer meetings, where devotion 
and zeal, however misdirected, are undoubtedly 
awakened and kept alive. My hours of daylight 
were generally occupied in the exercise of my 
pencil, and my evenings, as I had entirely with- 
drawn from parties, were devoted to reading books 
on religion, excepting when now and then I went, 
in a quiet way, to visit some friend, when religion 
was usually the theme of conversation ; indeed, so 
noted had I become for my lectures and exhor- 
tations, that a friend at some distance, seeing an 
advertisement in the newspaper that a lady was 
about to preach, concluded instantly that it must 
be me— a mistake, however, as I never thought of 
exercising my gift of speech in that way ; though 
had I been a man I should certainly have become 
a missionary, and the great object of my ambition 
for my brothers was that they might devote them- 
selves to the service of the Saviour in the work 
of the ministry, an object for which I offered up 


many prayers which I hope it will yet please 
God to answer. For the clerical character I had 
always a deep reverence ; yet from the principles 
I had imbibed, I could not and I did not yield 
an implicit credit to any. I cultivated their 
acquaintance, and listened to them with delight ; 
but if my impression of the meaning of Scripture 
was different from theirs, I followed my own 
judgment, and professed openly to do so, knowing 
them all to be as fallible as myself. This, though 
the natural result of Protestant principles, led 
inevitably to a proud dependence on my own 
opinions, which I perceived to be contrary to the 
spirit of the Gospel, and much did I pray to be 
delivered from it : but how are we to attain to 
the docility of a child, and act in consistency with 
the right of private judgment ? 

" Struggling thus betw^een opposing principles, 
I carried my grief to my pastor. I lamented my 
want of that childlike disposition, without which 
Our Saviour had declared 'we could not enter 
the kingdom of Heaven.' I was told that this 
very complaint was the result of pride, and a wish 
to find something in myself to recommend me to 
God. Faith was declared to be the all in all; 
that is, a firm confidence that I was already saved, 
and in possession of eternal life. In theory I 
embraced this, but it sometimes failed me in 


practice. I was, however, constantly exhorted by 
my truly pious, though mistaken pastor, to live 
as became an heir of glory ; and this it was my 
earnest endeavour and prayer to be enabled to 
do. I hope I truly loved my Saviour, and that 
it was the chief desire of my heart to please Him, 
and to induce others to do the same. With this 
end in view I gave as much money as I could 
spare to missionary and other religious societies, 
and prevailed on many of my friends actively to 
engage in the same. I never missed attending 
the prayer meetings for their success, and gave 
an hour every Sunday morning to private prayer 
for the same object. The diligent employment of 
my pencil had become in my mind an object of 
duty ; but when I had a spare hour I generally 
occupied it in some work of charity or devotion, 
my evenings in study and in prayer. At one thing, 
I daresay, you will smile, when I tell you, that 
impressed with the idea that women ought to do all 
in their power to remedy the evils they were the 
sad cause of introducing, I took a particular charge 
of all the young men of my acquaintance. Seeing 
them, especially in our northern capital, exposed 
to the seductions of infidelity on the one hand, 
and profligacy on the other, often from the want 
of a home and good society, exposed to seek the 
worst, I used to invite them to come to see me, 


on purpose to give them good advice, and had 
the happiness to find it not unfrequently succeed. 
I became noted for my zeal and intrepidity, and 
perhaps also, from having made it an object of 
more deep study than many, and thus generally 
being ready to render a reason for my opinion, 
I found my judgment looked up to, not only by 
my own sex, but the other, and even by clergy- 
men themselves — a sad temptation to a heart like 
mine, and might have ruined me altogether had 
not my own frequent doubts and difficulties served 
to humble me, and keep me always at the foot 
of the throne of grace ; where, I believe, no sincere 
suppliant was ever rejected. Things were going 
on thus, and I had reached the age of twenty-eight, 
when various circumstances made me embrace the 
resolution of visiting Italy; but as this enters on 
the most important epoch of my life, I shall reserve 
it for another letter, and conclude this with sub- 
scribing myself — Yours in Jesus Christ. 

*' Anne Agnes Trail. 

''March 1829." 

Letter III. 

** Rev. and Very Dear Father, — I cannot re- 
sume my pen at this moment without shedding 


tears, but they are not those of sorrow but of o-ratl- 
tude. ' Would,' as the prophet expresses it, ' that 
my head were a fountain of these tears,' that I 
might pour them out at the foot of the Throne of 
Grace in thanksgiving to God for His gracious 
Providence towards me. 

*' The recollection of the moment of my depar- 
ture for Italy brings with it a crowd of thoughts 
and feelings which it would be difficult to express. 
Eight and twenty years of my life had already 
passed away, and I think I may safely say that 
sixteen of these years had been almost uninter- 
ruptedly spent in an ardent search after Truth, 
which seemed constantly to elude my grasp. I had 
examined, reasoned, and reflected, till at last I had 
come to the conclusion, that truth without mixture 
of error was not the possession of any religious 
body existing on earth. I could not, therefore, be 
presumptuous enough to think that I alone had 
found it, or that it was very likely I ever should do 
so ; and I began to strive to rest satisfied wdth the 
knowledge of one simple truth of which I felt fully 
assured, viz., ^ That Jesus Christ came into the 
world to save sinners,' and that * He that cometh 
unto Him He will not cast out,' endeavouring at 
the same time to obey the injunction of the Apostle, 
' Be ye followers of God as dear children.' I made 
it my constant prayer that God would enlighten me 


more and more, and mould me entirely into His 
own will, and that He would never suffer me to rest 
satisfied, or enjoy happiness, till I was truly what 
He would have me to be. I never entered upon 
any project of importance, I never changed my 
abode, nay, I believe, I seldom went to pay a visit 
of civility or charity, or even to take a walk, with- 
out seekinof first the direction and blessinor of God. 
Thus, you may well suppose, that when it was pro- 
posed to me by some of my friends to visit Italy 
in order to improve my taste for painting, I did not 
make up my mind to do so till I had made it a 
matter of earnest prayer, and felt fully satisfied that 
it was the path which Providence at that time 
meant me to follow. 

'^ As to all my worldly plans and prospects, it 
was certainly the most eligible step I could take. 
I was uro-ed to it bv several friends, and had the 
full concurrence of every other who had any right 
to interfere ; my parents had given their full and 
ready consent, and my favourite pastor, whom I 
also consulted on the occasion, gave it as his 
opinion that it would be rather for my spiritual 
good than detriment. Under such circumstances, 
could I doubt that in going I was following the will 
of God ? Yet I can hardly express the distress I 
suffered at the idea of abandoning the privileges I 
then enjoyed, and casting myself, as I thought, into 


a barren wilderness with respect to spiritual things. 
Indeed, desirable as it was to me on many accounts, 
I never could have brought my mind to it, had it 
not been the firm persuasion that it was the path of 
duty, and being so, I felt assured God would supply 
me with the necessary grace ; my chief prayer was 
that it might be for His glory and my spiritual 
good. I frequently put up the petition of Moses, 
* Except Thy presence go with me, carry me not 
up hence.' Having with a sad heart listened to the 
last advice of my beloved pastor, and bid him and 
my other friends farewell, having fixed upon an 
hour for mutual prayer, In which we were to recom- 
mend each other at the Throne of Mercy, and 
having passed a few days with my own family, I 
set off on my journey, accompanied only by the 
prayers of my Christian friends ; for I went quite 
alone, at which some expressing a little anxiety, I 
replied, that I felt such confidence in the protection 
of my heavenly Father, that I felt safer In simply 
committing myself to Him than If I had an army 
around me. With this sentiment, you may believe, 
I felt no vain fears, either In the prospect, or during 
the progress of my journey ; my simple prayer all 
the way was : * Let Thy presence go with me, and 
do Thou give me rest.' At London, where I re- 
mained about a fortnight, I was chlefiy engaged In 
seeking my own spiritual improvement and that of 


my dear relatives, and especially in praying for and 
using every effort for the conversion of one who was 
sceptical as to the Christian religion ; but as he had 
a pious sister, I agreed with her for an hour of 
prayer for him and another brother who was in the 
same situation. Another hour every Sunday morn- 
ing, besides my public and private devotions, I set 
apart for prayer. In union with many whom I knew 
to be occupied In the same way and at the same 
hour, for the success of Christianity throughout the 
world. I mention these things to show the con- 
fidence I felt In the efficacy of united prayer, the 
beautiful spirit of which In the Catholic Church 
was one of the things In which my mind first sym- 
pathised, and which struck me most forcibly in 
entering Catholic countries. The churches always 
open, the people assembled at the evening Bene- 
diction or during the day ; the scattered, yet united 
worshippers, at their silent devotions, was a spec- 
tacle my heart could not resist, and I generally 
knelt down that my prayers might ascend with 
theirs ; yet, believing their mode of worship erro- 
neous, I frequently added a petition for them, and 
entreated the Father of Lights, to deliver His 
Church from all darkness and error. My God ! how 
can I sufficiently thank Thee, or admire, that the 
prayers I thought to offer up for others, were for 
myself, and that Thou didst In mercy return them 


into my own bosom ! My general sentiments with 
respect to the CathoHc reHgion at the time of my 
leaving England were, that It was grossly super- 
stitious, and In some instances perhaps even Idola- 
trous, but this only amongst the Ignorant ; the 
priests I believed frequently as ignorant as their 
flocks, and such I regarded as objects of compas- 
sion ; but I could not exculpate the more talented 
and learned from the charge of wilfully deceiving 
the people, by teaching them for doctrines the com- 
mandments of men, fancying they taught them to 
rely more on a multitude of outward observances 
than on the purity and devotion of the heart. To 
counteract this evil, I carried with me for distribu- 
tion a quantity of Scripture and other tracts, not, 
however, directly attacking any doctrine of the 
Catholic faith, though, I doubt not, they would do 
so insidiously, but chiefly, as I thought, to lead from 
outward to internal religion. Upon the same plan, 
I endeavoured, according to the advice of my pastor, 
to regulate my own conduct, by showing in my 
every action the influence of Christian principles, 
that others, without the word, might be won by my 

''To Paris I carried letters of introduction to 
several of the most eminent and zealous Protestants, 
clergymen and others, who were most actively 
engaged in Bible Missionary Societies; and my 


zeal for such Institutions, made me be received by 
them all with distinguished marks of affection ; and 
I suppose, from the liberality of my sentiments, I 
gained during my short stay the confidence of 
all. By this means I likewise discovered their 
clashing opinions, and suspicions of each other : 
this crneved me ; for I knew that Christians should 
be united, and not regard each other with bitter- 
ness. But though I lamented the effect, I had 
no suspicion of the cause ; yet, I doubt not, It 
was in the designs of Providence that I should 
perceive the evils of Protestantism, whilst still its 
undoubting and zealous advocate, for the right of 
private judgment was to me the dearest that I 
possessed, and which I allowed no one to dispute 
with me, though on the principle of the Apostle 
I sometimes abstained from what I thought lawful, 
that I might not offend a weak brother, I defended, 
nevertheless, my absolute right to follow in religious 
matters the dictates of my own conscience ; and 
this, I frankly acknowledged, did not agree entirely 
with the principles of any sect, nor could have 
allowed me to be the minister of any ; as I could 
not have conscientiously sworn to their articles of 
faith. Yet though I could not entirely coincide 
with any Protestant profession of faith with which 
I was acquainted, still further was I removed 
from what I had always been taught was that of 



Catholics ; and not doubting but that the representa- 
tion had been correct, I had no intention whatever 
of inquiring into their doctrines. The external 
splendour of their worship had for me no attrac- 
tions, as I believe my chief reason for preferrino- 
the Presbyterian to the Episcopal Church, was the 
simplicity of its forms and the republican nature of 
its government, two points in which it is farthest 
removed from the Catholic. The first impression 
made upon my mind by the multiplicity of repre- 
sentations of the Crucifix, Dead Christ, &c., too 
frequently executed with wretched taste, was that 
of disgust ; processions, &c., seemed to me things 
for the amusement of children, so that I may truly 
say there was nothing in the outward form of the 
Catholic religion which tended to conciliate me ; on 
the contrary (as I think must always be the case 
where the surface alone is regarded), there was 
much to confirm my preconceived prejudices ; but 
happily God had endowed me with a mind that was 
never satisfied with barely surveying the surface of 
anything ; and I never lost an opportunity of in- 
quiring into the purpose and meaning of everything 
of which I was a spectator, and that, if possible, 
always from Catholics themselves, convinced their 
information must always be the most correct. Thus 
by degrees my prejudices against many outward 

observances were removed, and the more I entered 




into the meaning of the various ceremonies and in- 
stitutions of the CathoHc Church, the more did I 
perceive how well they were calculated to inspire 
and increase devotion in the generality of minds. 
Besides, after remaining some time in Italy, I could 
not shut my eyes to the fact, that amongst the 
people there was much more of the primitive spirit 
of Christianity than even amongst our most enthu- 
siastic religionists. I perceived amongst them that 
humility and docility of spirit for which you may 
almost search in vain in our Protestant land. I 
perceived that respect for, and devotion to, their 
clergy ; that love for the service of the sanctuary, 
not only on one but every day of the wxek, which 
from the writings of the Apostles we find animated 
the first followers of the Redeemer. I saw, too, a 
noble generosity in contributing of their temporal 
substance to the purposes of religion, which is so 
lamentably deficient in Britain ; for notwithstanding 
the large sums which are lavished upon missions 
and Bible societies, and some other thinpfs which 
happen to be the fashion of the day, yet with what 
difficulty do we contrive to pay an additional clergy- 
man, or raise a new church even where the glaring 
deficiency is acknowledged by all. Here, too, 
charity was not blazoned to the public, but the rule 
followed, ' Let not thy right hand know what thy 
left hand doeth.' 


** Then, religious zeal was evidently so much 
more universal, and also the real spirit of charity, 
which mourns over the errors it cannot but con- 
demn. Revolving in my mind these observations, 
I often said to myself, how is it that a religion so 
full of error is yet more imbued with the genuine 
spirit of Christianity than one which is freer from it ? 
Still, early prejudice was so strong, that a suspicion 
never entered my mind that it might possibly be 
the true faith; but a natural love of justice made me 
acknowledge whatever I saw among Catholics that 
was good, and defended their conduct from many 
of the unworthy motives imputed to them most un- 
charitably by Protestants; and while I still lamented 
over, and prayed against their supposed errors in 
faith and worship, I often reproved my fellow- 
countrymen and women for their indecent beha- 
viour while attendlnof the latter. I endeavoured 
myself, as much as possible, to unite in the general 
spirit of devotion, though disapproving of the mode 
in which that devotion was manifested. 

"In the public ceremonies in which the Pope 
made his appearance, my mode of acting was, I 
believe, somewhat singular ; whenever it appeared 
to me that the homage that was paid him partook 
more of the temporal than the spiritual sovereign, 
I bent my knee as I would have done to my own 
prince ; but if it was attempted to be exacted from 



me as an acknowledgment of his spiritual do- 
minion, I peremptorily refused to do so — on 
both occasions regardless of what was done or 
thought by others — for I detested alike the In- 
solent rudeness manifested by some who pretended 
to despise popery, and, In fact, contemned all re- 
ligion and all authority, and the crouching servility 
of others, who could bow before one whom they In- 
wardly despised and openly abused as an Impostor 
and a hypocrite. Personally, I always esteemed and 
defended the Pope, Leo XII., because from every- 
thing I heard I believed him to be a good man 
and zealous for the religion which he believed to 
be true ; and I condemned loudly the want of 
charity, shown even by many of my most pious 
acquaintances, In imputing to him, and the Catholic 
hierarchy and clergy in general, the most flagitious 
conduct, and the worst of motives for the best actions. 
Ah! where had the gentle spirit of Christianity fled, 
when Christian could thus accuse his fellow-Chris- 
tians of crimes that would have caused a heathen 
land to blush .^ For I dare say, I need not tell 
you, dear Father, that the immorality of the clergy 
is one of the great bugbears held up to frighten 
Protestants from the Catholic faith. I must con- 
fess that the first few Individuals of that body 
whom I met with, w^ere not calculated to make a 
favourable impression; but I felt always unwilling 


to believe that the mass of the ministers of even a7i 
adulterated Christianity could wish to seduce the 
people committed to their care ; and I rejoiced 
when further observation convinced me that the 
accusation was groundless ; and that if among Ca- 
tholics there were likewise some who abused their 
priests, I generally found them to be those who 
sought in the errors of their teachers an excuse 
for a conduct at variance with the precepts they 
tauo-ht ; but as I found them beloved and re- 
spected by the most pious, I could not reasonably 
doubt they were as a body wordiy of that affection 
and esteem. 

'' Character, and the causes which contribute to 
form a certain state of society, had always been 
favourite objects of my study, and of course claimed 
their share of attention in a country so interesting 
as Italy, where from constantly residing in families 
of the middle class, while I visited a few of the 
higher, I had opportunities which few possess of 
forming a correct judgment. It appeared to me 
that (contrary to what I had been led to expect), 
if some crimes were more common, the balance 
on the whole was rather in favour of Italy — at all 
events not against it; whilst, at the same time, 
the overbearing pride and self-conceit of my own 
countrymen, so contrary to the spirit of the Gospel, 
forced themselves upon me in a very striking 


manner. Still, however, during the first winter 
of my stay at Rome, I may say, that my prejudices 
were removed rather from Catholics, than from 
Catholicism, which I continued to regard as a 
most erroneous system ; and I well remember that 
when a young priest, for whom I had a great 
esteem on account of his virtues |and amiable 
qualities, made some little attempts to bring me 
over, I told him it was much more probable that 
the cardinals, clergy, and people of Rome should 
all turn Protestants, than that / should turn Roman 
Catholic. Unaccustomed to reason with heretics, 
his arguments brought no conviction to my mind, 
but his affectionate earnestness, his evidently ardent 
desire for my conversion (for which he assured 
me he prayed and fasted, and would willingly 
shed the last drop of his blood), convinced me of 
the sincerity of his own faith, and manifested a 
spirit that is rare indeed among Protestants, but 
which I had often longed to find. Once he said to 
me, ' I think you believe in and love the Lord Jesus, 
and therefore I hope we shall meet in Paradise,' 
— ' A very liberal sentiment,' said I, ' for a Catholic 
priest.' But when he explained himself, I found 
that his hopes were founded on an assurance of 
my sincerity, and love of the truth, and that 
therefore God would not fall to give me more 
light, and that I should finally become a Catholic — 


a thing I thought nearly as impossible as that I 
should become a Mahometan. 

** But God's thoughts are not as our thoughts, 
and how wonderful are the ways of His divine 
Providence, and how great His goodness towards 
them that seek Him, which I continued to do 
constantly and earnestly In private prayer. On 
Sundays I was one of the most regular attendants 
at church and communion, and I had likewise 
joined myself to a few pious Protestants who met 
privately once a week for prayer, reading and 
expounding the Scriptures ; and conversation on 
their eternal interests. I went very little Into 
general society, and usually spent my evenings as 
formerly in study and prayer ; — and these were the 
sweetest moments I enjoyed. Now and then some 
friends called, and they often wondered to find 
me so solitary and yet so cheerful ; but they knew 
not that I never felt less alone than when left In 
peace to converse with God. 

" I esteem It as an especial Providence, that from 
the time I left home I never enjoyed a more com- 
fortable state of mind ; and harassed by no parti- 
cular doubts or difficulties, I could more calmly turn 
my attention to the contemplation of religion in 
general ; and it likewise precludes the suspicion that 
unhappiness In my own faith made me think of em- 
bracing the Catholic religion. Quite the contrary : 


my spirit was entirely at rest ; an entire abandon- 
ment into the hands of Providence made me take 
no thought for the morrow with regard to temporal 
things ; a firm confidence in the paternal care of 
my Heavenly Father made me, in every difficulty 
and danger, fly to His protection; and I had met 
some wonderful deliverances in direct answer to 
prayer — a humble hope in my Redeemer's merits, 
whilst my own conscience, which acquitted me of 
indulging in any wilful offence against God, made 
me regard futurity rather with joy than dread. 

*' Such, as far as I can recollect, was the state of 
my heart and judgment when an apparently acci- 
dental occurrence turned my mind to the study of 
that faith which I had hitherto regarded as so erro- 
neous, but in which I now hope ever to subscribe 
myself — Your obedient and affectionate daughter in 
Jesus Christ, Ann Agnes Trail. 

^ " Rome, AprilP 

Letter IV. 

*' Rev. and Dear Father, — I do not require to 
tell you, who are so intimately acquainted with my 
interior, that my besetting sins were the pride of in- 
tellect and the love of praise. Aware, however, of 
these defects, and I trust sincerely desirous that 


they should be subdued, and every thought brought 
into the obedience of Christ — though I had been 
much flattered on my reasoning powers, and felt a 
great pleasure in their exercise and display — I had, 
ever since my entering Italy, rather avoided discus- 
sions on religion with Catholics, (though I doubted 
not but that I had truth on my side), lest in doing 
so for the love of argument, or in the spirit of pride, 
God might as a punishment allow me to fall into 


*' At length, however, being at a party one even- 
ing, I was placed near a lay prelate, Monsignor 
Zacchia, afterwards Cardinal Priest and Governor 
of Rome, a clever man, with whom I had previously 
had several conversations, but always on indifferent 
subjects. That evening, however, I hardly know 
how it came about, but the conversation turned on 
religion, and he began to press me to pay attention 
to the Catholic faith, offering at the same time his 
services to answer any objections or clear up any 
doubts I mieht have. Doubts indeed I had none, 
but plenty of objections, and I had little idea of be- 
coming a learner, where I deemed myself rather in 
condition of beinof the teacher. I felt no wish to 
enter into discussion with him, but I feared that my 
refusal might be taken as an acknowledgment of the 
weakness of my cause, and thought it would be 
tantamount to a denial of the h^uth, I therefore 


accepted his challenge, and an evening was fixed for 
his paying me a visit. 

" I attached a good deal of Importance to this 
meeting, and when the day arrived, on bidding 
farewell to a dear friend with whom I had dined, 
and who was, I believe, the only one acquainted 
with the circumstance, I begged her to pray for 
me ; I made no other preparation. About nine 
o'clock Monslgnor came, and we instantly began a 
discussion which proved so animated and Interest- 
ing, that it w^as an hour past midnight when, look- 
ing at his watch, he felt that propriety compelled 
him to withdraw, though we were still In the midst 
of our argument. I thought I had sustained my 
cause very well, by abundance of Scripture quota- 
tions, which of course I applied in my own way. 
At that time I knew nothing of the writings of the 
Old Fathers, and besides, told my opponent^ would 
give nothing for the whole of them if they spoke 
against the truth. No suspicion as yet had entered 
my mind that the truth might possibly be In the 
system I was so strongly opposing. No way 
daunted, however, by my pertinacity, perhaps per- 
ceiving that my warm opposition was more the re- 
sult of ignorance than determined prejudice, my 
friend returned to the charge in about ten days, and 
w^e had another discussion of about three hours, 
wdilch, though it did not In the least convince me 


of the truth, yet showed me Catholic faith, and 
affected me very deeply with the thought of the 
difficulty of finding the truth. Here, thought I, are 
two ; each thinks the other in dreadful error, each 
sincerely anxious for the other's eternal interest ; 
and yet, how are we to know who is right ? I be- 
lieve I am ; but it is possible it may be otherwise. 
Has our merciful Heavenly Father left us no sure 
means to ascertain this ? Oh, the agony of this un- 
certainty ! With a pain at my heart, and I believe 
tears in my eyes, I bid Monsignor farewell in 
these words : ' Your arguments only show me 
more the need we all have to ask the aid of the 
Holy Spirit to enlighten us ; ' and he was no 
sooner gone than I think I knelt down to pray 
for him and myself. 

** I had no further conversation at that time with 
Monsignor, as a few days after I left Rome with 
two friends, a clergyman and his wife, to make a 
tour round the north of Italy; but previously I re- 
ceived from my zealous friend a book, which I had 
promised him to read attentively and as far as pos- 
sible without prejudice. It was ' Forest's Method 
of Instruction for the Protestants, to bring them 
back to the Church of Rome.' For my note of 
thanks for this book I wrote : — ' If it contains the 
truth, I pray God to enable me to perceive and em- 
brace it ; if error, I pray to be preserved from its 


contamination.' This prayer, offered In the sin- 
cerity of my heart, and repeated, I beUeve, every 
time I opened that book, ascended, I doubt not, to 
the Hearer and Answerer of prayer, as you will find 
by the sequel. 

" The evening before I left Rome, which was I 
think about the 20th of May, my friends and I 
went to take a last look at St. Peter's. We entered 
that noble temple, calculated to inspire devotion 
into the coldest heart ; but at that moment every 
circumstance conspired to make us feel its power : 
it was the hour of Complin ; my friends sat down 
to hear the music, and I knelt down to pray, as 
I thought, for the Catholics ; but in reality for 
myself, as I offered up the petition, that God 
would deliver His Church from all error, and 
enlighten all with the light of His truth. On my 
return to the house, I received a farewell visit 
from the young priest I formerly mentioned, who 
sitting down by me, expressed his sorrow at my 
departure, especially in Ignorance of the truth ; * But,' 
said he, * I hope God will yet hear my prayers 
for you ; since the first day I knew you, I have 
always prayed for you, and I will continue to do 
so every day In the Mass, along with my mother 
and sisters.' *I pray for you too,' said I. *Ah!' 
exclaimed he, with great energy, ' thank God 
I w^as born a Catholic, or I might have been 


worse than you, for your error is that of birth 
and education, more than of the heart ; that is too 
good.' This might have been considered a com- 
pHment ; but it was not a time for adulation ; 
and I was too much affected to feel flattered ; on 
the contrary, I was grieved, because I thought 
his expression savoured of an error, of which I 
believed Catholics guilty, that of counting too 
much on human merit, and I immediately dis- 
claimed the application of the term ' too good,' 
either to myself, or any human being. He said, 
* I do not mean before God ; thei^e we are all 
sinners, but only with respect to man.' I was 
more satisfied with this reply, and besides was 
not in a humour to enter into controversy. He bid 
me ' Adieu,' entreating me to seek my salvation by 
searching into the truth of the Catholic faith. I 
did not indeed expect to find my salvation there ; 
but after all that had passed, I should have almost 
felt myself culpable in not paying some attention to 
the subject ; and I resolved to do so as soon as I 
was again settled, and prayed God to remove from 
me all prejudice, that I might view the question 

'' We set out on our tour, and at Florence I re- 
ceived from a great friend, a Swiss clergyman, the 
Communion for the last time in the Protestant 
Church. I there likewise refused two offers, either 


of which, had I accepted, would In all probability 
have defeated the Lord's crraclous deslo^ns with 
respect to me ; and I can only attribute it to His 
kind care that I still retained my preference for a 
single life, or I should probably have yielded my 
hand to one who was possessed of almost every 
quality I could have desired In a husband. I love 
in these Incidents to mark an overrulinof Providence 
constantly exercised on my behalf. 

** We continued our tour to Venice, where we 
immediately paid a visit to the English Consul, 
Mr. Monney, a most worthy and pious man, but an 
ardent Protestant. By him and his lady I was re- 
ceived as an old friend, though we had never before 
met ; and they pressed me to return and spend the 
winter with them — an invitation which it would 
have delighted me to accept ; but having left a large 
picture unfinished at Rome, I was obliged to de- 
cline. While at Venice we happened to go Into a 
church at the hour when they were teaching the 
* Dottrino,' and both I and my clerical friend were 
much struck and delio^hted at their mode of o^ivlnof 
instruction, and also with two sermons we heard, 
which appeared to us both admirable doctrine. All 
these things made an impression which, if not at the 
time, were useful afterwards when my eyes began 
to open to the light of truth. 

*' From Venice we proceeded to Milan and the 


Lakes, where I met a countryman, a convert to the 
CathoHc faith, and who knowing something of my 
family, expressed a wish to see me, and showed me 
great kindness and attention. I felt great curiosity 
to see him, and measured his skull with a scrutinis- 
ing eye to see whether he had got a competent 
quantum of brain or not ; still so strongly was my 
mind impressed with the absurdity of many Catholic 
doctrines, that when he took me to see the body of 
the great St. Carlo Borromeo, I stood unmoved, 
while he bowed in reverence ; on which, and I be- 
lieve some other things, I remarked on leaving the 
church. I had now bid farewell to my dear friends, 
and proceeded alone to Parma, for the purpose of 
making a copy of the celebrated St. Jerome of 
Correggio. Parma I must ever recall with great 
interest, as there was first awakened in my mind 
that do7ibt which, by being resolved, ended all those 
which had harassed me for years ; but I must 
proceed, if I can, with order. I entered an Italian 
family, to whom I carried a letter of introduction 
from Rome, and the mistress of which was a perfect 
example of unaffected piety and virtue, but had 
neither talents nor learning for controversy; the 
husband still less Inclined to enter upon it, so that 
religion was only spoken of in a general w^ay. 
There were no English residents, and I made no 
acquaintances excepting a few of the professors of 


the art I had gone to cultivate ; so that my time 
was uninterrupted and my mind left free to rumi- 
nate, without any one to bias it, on the important 
subject to which God was about powerfully to call 
my attention. 

*' In the midst of a city my soul almost enjoyed 
the solitude of a cloister : eight or nine hours daily 
employed at my painting ; the remainder of my time, 
except perhaps a solitary ramble along the walls or 
in the palace garden, I passed In my own apart- 
ment reading or writing — quiet without and peace 
within. This state of isolation was a slno^ular Pro- 
vidence, as it removed me entirely from the In- 
fluence either of Protestant or Catholic friend ; and 
If, on looking around me, I might have said, ' No 
man careth for my soul,' I believe my gracious 
Heavenly Father was taking it under His more 
peculiar care. It was the first time In my life that 
I had been placed where there was no Protestant 
place of worship, and to remedy, as far as I could, 
the want of It, I used regularly at the hour our 
church met for worship at home, to shut myself up 
In my room, and strive to unite In spirit with them, 
by reading or singing a psalm or hymn, then pro- 
ceeding to prayer and the reading of Scripture, In 
which way I occupied the usual time of divine 
service. I generally likewise spent some time, 
morning or evening, in some Catholic church, that 


I might have the pleasure of offering up my de- 
votions In what I still considered the house of 
prayer, though polluted by superstition. There, 
too, among the fervent adorers, I could not doubt 
that many were worshipping God in spirit and In 
truth. During these visits I remembered the deep 
devotion of Catholics, especially whilst at com- 
munion, and I believed it to be the effect of their 
peculiar belief. 'The effect is good,' said I, 'but Is 
the cause a truth ? I believe not. Yet, If the Catholic 
religion were not full of error, it is certainly fur- 
nished with much more abundant means of salva- 
tion than the Protestant.' These observations caused 
me to reflect deeply, and I could not unravel the 
mystery, that a faith which I had been always 
taught was so corrupt, should be productive of such 
effects. But the time was at hand when the scales 
were to fall from my eyes, and the pure light of 
divine faith, without mixture of error, was to burst 
on my astonished sight. 

'' I had read the greater part of Forest's work, 
and my mind was as yet untouched by the force of 
the arguments, when I came to the subject of the 
Blessed Eucharist. To part of the reasoning on that 
too I had replied, but ere I came to the conclusion, 
I was forced to acknowledge the Catholics had all 
fair arguments on their side. I Instantly laid hold 
of my Bible, and turned to every text that I thought 


could In the least bear on the subject ; and I saw 
clearly that Scripture likewise, If taken in its 
literal sense, was all for them, and I said to my- 
self, * If, In this doctrine alone. Catholics are right, 
though In error on other points. It were well to be a 
Catholic ; but how am I to know In what sense my 
Saviour means me to take these words ? — that is 
all I desire: to accept them as He wishes me.' 
This doubt excited others with respect to the 
foundation of the Protestant faith, and threw my 
mind into great agitation. I prayed, but I knew I 
had no right to expect a miraculous interposition 
of Providence, and that it was my duty to make use 
of every means in my power for discovering the 
truth ; and I instantly resolved on applying to a 
Catholic divine, a good old Franciscan friar, con- 
fessor to my landlady, and who was generally 
esteemed for his learning and piety. I had made 
his acquaintance about ten days before, when at my 
request she had asked him to dinner, and when I 
was afraid I had hurt his feelings by some remarks 
I had made. I took up my pen, however, and first 
made an apology, or rather asked his forgiveness, 
and frankly stated the doubt that had arisen in my 
mind, requesting a conversation with him. Next 
morning I carried the note to the convent, and sent 
it in. The good Father, surprised, you may be- 
lieve, but pleased, granted my request, and offered 


to call on me. I preferred, however, going to him, 
as I was desirous no one should know. 

" I can never forget the scene of our first con- 
ference — conducted through the church into the 
sacristy, where the good old man, beckoning me to 
follow, led me Into a little cell furnished with two 
chairs, shut the door, and sat down. I Immediately 
put a number of questions to him with respect to 
how he felt on receiving the Blessed Eucharist, and 
a number of other things, some of which were 
curious enough ; amongst the rest, whether he had 
ever repented becoming a friar. In short, I be* 
lleve I ran over the greater part of the common 
Protestant objections to the Catholic faith. He 
heard everything with the greatest patience, and 
his replies pleased me much, and enlightened my 
mind on many points, both of doctrine and practice 
on which I was either entirely Ignorant or grossly 
misinformed. I repeated my visit several times, 
and every time I came home with a deeper Impres- 
sion that the Catholic faith was probably the true 
one, and the conflict this raised In my mind, I can- 
not express. On the one hand, anxiety to know 
the truth made me wish and determine to search 
further ; on the other, the fear of being seduced into 
error, made me almost afraid to yield my judgment 
even to arguments which seemed most convincing. 
This was my chief fear, and made me act with the 


greatest caution ; and oh ! with what earnestness, I 
may say agonising prayer, did I entreat God not 
to punish my pride by allowing me to be deluded, 
and this, not only for my own sake, but likewise 
that I might not be a scandal to others. 

" Then the situation in which I should be placed, 
should I change my religion, arose to my mind in 
all its horror ; slighted and contemned by those 
who had hitherto honoured and courted me ; re- 
garded as an outcast from grace, and pointed out 
as a beacon to warn others, by those religious 
persons who had heretofore marked me as an 
example to be followed, and for whose esteem and 
regard I had most value ; perhaps abandoned by 
my friends and relatives, many of whom I knew to 
be most hostile to the Catholic faith. But what 
wounded me most deeply was the thought of the 
affliction into which I knew I must inevitably 
plunge my beloved parents and family — perhaps I 
may bring my father's grey hairs with sorrow to the 
grave, perhaps I may break the tender heart of my 
affectionate mother, of whom I have hitherto been 
the pride ; my own will break soon, too, thought I, 
but no matter, I must follow the dictates of my 
conscience ; but, if my conscience be mistaken, what 
then ? to lose all for this world and the next! Yet, 
would my Saviour suffer this, when I am willing to 
sacrifice everything I value most, even life itself, 


for His sake ? Nay, when, were I even sure of 
being saved in the Protestant faith, yet should the 
Cathohc faith be more pleasing to Him, I would 
embrace it at the hazard of all I possess in the 
world. Surely no ! 

"Ah, my dear Father, could you but conceive 
half of what I then suffered, you would weep with 
me now. Without a friend to whom I could reveal 
my distress;— in fear whether God was not at that 
moment forsaking me, I could only cling closer to 
Him and entreat Him not to abandon me. If stones 
could speak, those of St. Giovanni would bear wit- 
ness to my sighs and tears ; for there, usually as I 
returned from my painting, I retired to pray and 
meditate ; and I sometimes withdrew into the most 
obscure chapel, where, throwing myself down on the 
pavement, with my forehead on the cold marble 
steps of the altar, I would truly pour out my 
heart before God, to beseech Him to preserve, or 
deliver me from error, and to enlighten me with 
the light of truth — the whole truth. Then, my 
God ! let me suffer what Thou wilt — nay, I would 
rather suffer, should it be more for Thy glory and 
the honour of religion. From two things alone, I 
think, I prayed God to spare me ; that, should the 
Catholic religion be the true one, and God enabled 
me to perceive and embrace it, I might not be 
doomed to break the hearts of my parents, nor be 


myself reduced to the necessity of accepting a 
partner. I know I prayed likewise that I might 
have no worldly inducement, that I might feel more 
sure of my own sincerity, and that the world might 
not be able to impute an interested motive. How 
graciously my Heavenly Father heard and answered 
all these prayers. Ah, pray for me, that I may 
correspond to so much mercy by an entire devo- 
tion of myself, body, soul, and spirit, to God. 

'' Thus passed the last six weeks of my stay in 
Parma ; for I find, by the date of various letters, 
that the first serious doubt entered my mind about 
the 20th of September. I left Parma on All 
Souls' Day ; on the preceding evening I went to 
bid farewell to the dear old Father who had with 
such patience done all he could to instruct me, by 
conversations, letters, and books. He wept as I 
kissed his hand (the first time in my life I had 
ever condescended to do so to any one), and said 
he felt assured God would show me the truth ; 
assured me he would never forget to pray for me, 
and conjured me to let him know as soon as I 
should feel convinced, and embrace the Catholic 
Faith, — which I promised to do. 

"I resolved to return to Rome by way of Lor- 
etto, that I might see that celebrated sanctuary. 
Doubtful with respect to Its miraculous history, I 
yet felt it was an object of deep interest, as the 


reputed place of the incarnation of the blessed Re- 
deemer, and I entered it with a feeling inexpres- 
sible, and a wish or half expectation that God might 
there show me some miracle, which should make 
me know the truth. I knelt down in It to pray, 
while my companions went through the usual 
ceremony of kissing the Scudello, &c. I think I 
kissed it too, but I am not sure. After remaining 
about an hour to see all the treasures, &c., we 
passed on towards Rome, my mind still immersed 
in doubt and distress. But the further progress of 
my convictions I shall reserve for another letter ; 
and meanwhile subscribe myself, with grateful devo- 
tion towards you, dear Father in Jesus Christ — 
Your obedient and affectionate daughter, 

'' Anne Agnes Trail." 

Letter V. 
"Rev. and Very Dear Father, — From the 
circumstances I recounted to you in my last letter, 
you would naturally conclude that I returned to 
Rome with a firm determination to inform myself 
fully, and to satisfy myself thoroughly whether or 
not the Catholic was indeed that Faith once de- 
livered to the saints ; and for this purpose I brought 
with me letters to two ecclesiastics who should be 
competent to give me every information. 


'' Had I allowed myself In the least degree to 
be guided by my feelings, I should certainly have 
delivered these letters Immediately; but when the 
first serious doubt entered my mind, I had written 
to my much esteemed pastor, Dr. Gordon, and like- 
wise to a learned and pious female friend ; and I felt 
that It was acting both most prudently and most 
conscientiously, to wait at least some time for an 
answer to the former, before I proceeded further 
In my inquiries. 

" According to my calculation, there had already 
been ample time for a reply, and the urgent 
nature of the letter led me to expect It would be 
answered without delay ; three weeks, however, 
passed away, and still not a line ; till at length I 
judged It my duty to wait no longer, and kneeling 
down in prayer to my Heavenly Father to direct 
me, I went straight to the post, taking with me 
my letters of Introduction, resolved that should I 
find nothing, I would deliver them without loss 
of time. My Inquiries were all In vain, so that It 
appeared to me that without a direct resistance to 
the manifest will of Providence, I could not do other- 
wise than proceed In my search with respect to the 
Catholic Faith. 

" I returned not to the house, but turned my 
steps towards St. Callsto, In order to find a Bene- 
dictine, Abbot Beni, to whom one of my letters 


was addressed. He was at home, and after having 
read the letter, he offered his services to give me 
any Instruction I should wish, and asked me the 
points on which I was most anxious to be satisfied. 
I mentioned several, especially that of the Blessed 
Eucharist ; he promised to procure me books and 
to call on me. On leading me through the church 
he bowed before the altar, and perceiving my un- 
altered attitude, he took me by the arm, saying, 
* I bowed to the Holy Sacrament, and I hope it 
will not be long ere you do the same.' I replied, 
'When I am convinced: never till then,' and walked 
away. I believe he thought he had got a most 
stubborn animal to deal with, for I would not be 
satisfied with hearing or even seeing in modern 
books quotations from the ancient Fathers, but In- 
sisted on seeing them in the original ponderous 
folio Latin volumes which I could not read, but I 
had them translated for me by a learned Protestant, 
that I might not be cheated by a false or partial 
construction of the text. My Protestant friend, 
however, was obliged to allow, that the testimony 
of these great luminaries of the Christian Church 
was quite In favour of the Catholic belief, and the 
more I read, the more I became convinced of this 
fact. A glance, too, at Bossuet's 'Variations of 
the Protestant Churches,' &c., showed me how 
false were the principles, and how unchristian the 


motives, which led to, as well as the mode in 
which was conducted, the pretended Reformation. 

" The mist of prejudice began to disperse before 
the rising light of the Sun of Faith, but it was by 
slow degrees, as my habits of reasoning led me 
to fight every inch of ground ; and though I 
began to perceive something of the folly of the so 
much boasted right of private judgment in matters 
of faith, yet in practice I knew not how to give 
it up. 

'' Meanwhile I may say, I spent day and night 
in earnest prayer ; for my sleep was broken by the 
agitation of my mind, and I often arose in the 
midst of it to throw myself on my knees ; and dur- 
ing the day, though I regularly employed my 
pencil, it did not hinder the aspirations of my heart 
towards Him who is in every place. Besides, 
my painting itself afforded me food for meditation, 
as the subject was the Mass of Bolsena, the 
history of which, you know, regards the Real Pre- 
sence in the Blessed Sacrament. My employ- 
ment thus leading me to the Vatican, was fraught 
with another advantage, that of having it in my 
power to visit St. Peter's almost daily, and there 
every morning, before I began my work, I used 
to go to the altar of the Blessed Sacrament and 
pray to my divine Redeemer, that if He were 
really present in the Sacred Host, He would 


make me know it, and ere long to receive Him 
in the Communion. I believe I owed much, very 
much, to these prayers, and oh, how much more to 
that grace that caused me to offer them, and then 
answered them so abundantly! It is singular that 
from the time the first doubt arose in my mind, I 
was never again permitted to receive the Lord's 
Supper in the Protestant communion, though I had 
the wish and intention of doing so more than once ; 
for I still considered it my duty to attend public 
worship, and I did so for several months after my 
return to Rome. The first time, however, that I 
went with the intention of receiving the communion 
I was taken ill, and obliged to leave the church 
just before the commencement of the service. The 
second time that I had the intention of going, it 
came on such a heavy rain that I could not possibly 
go, as I was at a considerable distance ; and instead, 
I ran across to a Catholic church which was oppo- 
site, where I prayed, during Mass, for the service I 
think I did not then thoroughly understand. A 
third occasion occurred, but by that time my mind, 
though not completely satisfied, was so far con- 
vinced of the truth of the Catholic faith — at least 
upon that head — that my conscience would not 
allow me to partake. 

''The Carnival season then came on, and instead 
of going to any of the public diversions, I went 


with some Italian friends to the Pauhne Chapel 
to pray. Soon after, at my particular request, 
the same friends introduced me to the Rev. A. 
Magee, one of the friars of the SS. Apostoli, to 
whom I acknowledge myself much indebted for his 
unwearied attention and perseverance in giving 
me instruction, and procuring me able English 
works, which have been of great service to me. 
You may imagine how glad I was to be able to con- 
verse on the subject in my native tongue and with 
one of my own countrymen ; for hitherto all my 
discussions had been with foreigners, who could not 
altogether enter into my sentiments, nor make the 
necessary allowance for my prejudices. A few 
days after I made the acquaintance of Mr. Magee, 
I requested the Italian Prelate who first spoke to 
me, to introduce me to the English Bishop — Right 
Rev. Dr. Baines, and they had the kindness to 
call upon me both together. God had thus afforded 
me ample means of instruction, of which I was not 
slow to avail myself; but it was like Nicodemus 
when he came to our Lord by night — I did not wish 
it to be known. As my convictions strengthened, 
however, my boldness increased ; and my friends, 
beginning to suspect my change of sentiments, 
wrote to the Protestant clergyman, and begged his 
interference. He offered me a visit, which I most 
readily accepted ; for I had no desire but that of 


knowing the truth. Yet fully aware of the feelings 
with which he would naturally regard me, I felt a 
considerable degree of agitation at the prospect of 
the announced visit. To assist me, I had pre- 
viously written out several of the questions I meant 
to put ; but in the morning of the appointed day, as 
soon as I got up, I went, as was my frequent prac- 
tice, to look into my Bible for a text, and I opened 
upon, * Think not beforehand, neither do ye pre- 
meditate, for it shall be given you in that self-same 
hour what ye shall speak.' Whether erroneously 
or not, I immediately applied these words to my- 
self, and considering my written preparation as a 
want of faith, I tore the paper in pieces — confiding, 
that if the truth were on my side, ' the Lord would 
be to me a mouth and wisdom which none should 
be able to gainsay or resist,' and if not, that He 
would make use of Mr. Burgess as an instrument to 
show It me. 

" I believe I spent nearly two hours before his 
arrival in earnest prayer; that his visit might be 
for the elucidation of truth, that we might meet in 
the spirit of mutual Christian charity, and that God 
would sustain me in the novel circumstance in 
which I was then placed, of meeting as an oppo- 
nent the minister of a party I had hitherto warmly 
supported, and acknowledging myself seeking for 
wholesome food for my soul, in a field which he 


thought only covered with poisonous weeds. My 
soul was deeply agitated, but as I arose from my 
knees God brought most seasonably and strongly 
to my remembrance the words of the inspired Pro- 
phet, ^ Fear 7iot, for / am with thee ; be not dis- 
mayed, for I am thy God, I will strengthen thee, 
yea, I will help thee, yea, I will uphold thee with 
the right hand of My righteousness.' 

*' Soon after Mr. Burgess made his appearance, 
and on my thanking him for his visit, he apologised 
for not having called on me earlier ; mentioning 
several mutual friends, &c. As I wished to let 
him know I was quite aware of the motive of his 
coming, I said, * I believe, Mr. Burgess, I am in- 
debted for this visit to ,' naming the friend 

who had written to him. * Yes,' he replied, * but 
had I known, I should have called earlier as your 
clergyman ; for/ said he, rather pointedly, ' you 
are one of my flock, are you not ? ' I felt it was 
better to be quite open, and answered with em- 
phasis, * I was one.' With apparent surprise he said, 
'And surely you can have no thought of leaving 
us?' 'Very serious thoughts,' said I. He then 
expressed his astonishment that one who had 
known the truth and been distinguished for my 
religion as I had, should think of abandoning the 
f^iith, &c. We then began to discuss several points 
of doctrine ; and seeing — what I suppose he did 


not expect — that I had a reason ready on every 
point, he began to try to confound me with some 
sophistical quibbles. As soon as I perceived this, I 
said, ' Mr. Burgess, I thought you came with the 
intention of elucidating truth, and in that spirit I 
met you.' He seemed ashamed of himself, and 
gave up ; but at the end of our discussion I only 
felt more persuaded that on the Protestant side 
there was nothing to be said. I believe he, too, felt 
he had at least the worst of the argument, for he 
evidently had no intention to return ; but gave it 
as his farewell advice, that I should leave Italy, 
and go home to my relatives, evidently insinuating 
that a love affair, or something else equally culp- 
able, was leading me astray. He dared only to 
hint this, however, but it wounded me to the quick 
at a moment when I felt I was probably about to 
sacrifice everything I held dear on earth, and for 
the first time I lost my equanimity, and whilst 
my eyes filled with tears I exclaimed, ' I know 
what you think ; but God is my witness that I have 
no worldly motive whatever to induce me to be- 
come a Catholic— on the contrary, all are against 
it.' I asked him to return, but he never did so ; 
and some time after, I wrote to solicit a second 
visit ; but he did not even condescend to reply till 
I wrote a second time, and then he sent a formal 
note saying he would answer me either by letter or 


in person. He did call once at an appointed hour, 
but from a blunder of the servant he did not gain 
admittance, and he never returned, though he had 
promised to do so. We did not again meet, I be- 
lieve, for six or seven weeks, when he was on the 
point of leaving Rome ; and that evening he began 
to attack me, though in a hidden way, in the 
midst of a party where all my country people 
except myself were sound Protestants. I thought 
this very ungenerous, as I had offered him so many 
opportunities of conversing with me in private. 
However, seeing he seemed determined to force 
me to speak on the subject, I began to press him 
on the subject of church authority. He denied it 
explicitly, and would acknowledge no other arbiter 
in disputed points than the Scriptures. Having 
drawn from him a clear statement of his senti- 
ments on this head, I said to him, ' This is very 
different doctrine from what you preach ; — do you 
remember a sermon you gave the Sunday before 
Christmas ? ' (in which he had most decidedly dis- 
claimed the sufficiency of Scripture alone, in cases 
of dispute, and said a living judge was necessary, 
that God had left that power to His Church). 
He appeared rather confused at my reminding 
him of this passage in his sermon, as he was 
obliged to acknowledge the correctness of my 
memory, and he only tried to excuse himself by 


making some undefinable limit to absolute autho- 
rity. He afterwards discussed several other points 
with much the same results as the former, and at 
midnight we found ourselves tete-a-tete, the whole 
party having withdrawn one by one : he wished 
me good-bye, saying I would wander about for a 
time and then return to them ; which I thought 
very unlikely. 

'' From the beginning of March, when I had 
my first conversation with Mr. Burgess, I had no 
rest night or day ; my change of sentiments having 
become public, I was harassed by visits from various 
zealous Protestants, some friends, some not even 
acquaintances, who used all the arguments they 
were masters of, to turn me from my purpose. 
The inconsistencies into which I found every Pro- 
testant run to defend their cause, convinced me 
more than anything that their cause was untenable. 
Yet their visits agitated and sometimes perplexed 
me, by starting difficulties which cost me at least 
some trouble to solve ; but I was determined to 
listen to all they could say, both for my own satis- 
faction and that of my friends, who, I knew well, 
would think I had been led astray by some artful 
priest, without having had it in my power to hear 
anything on the opposite side. But Providence 
seemed to have provided against this objection by 
the process of my conversion, as I owed it not to any 


one individual, but gained something from each ; 
and I think still more from books, reflection, and 

" During March I set apart two weeks for more 
especial prayer to God, to grant me by the end of 
that time light to discern His true Church; and I 
entreated various persons, both Catholics and Pro- 
testants, to pray for me, without specifying my re- 
quest to any of them. I was then reading Milner's 
' End of Religious Controversy/ and his arguments 
on the Authority of the Church struck me so forcibly, 
that I fell down on my knees with the exclamation 
of the philosopher of old — ' I have found It ! I have 
found it ! ' I could not but feel It was In answer 
to my prayer, and the time was still not expired. 
I wrote instantly to the Bishop and acknowledged 
I was convinced, and had the intention of makinof 
an open confession of my faith before him and the 
Protestant clergyman, for which end I did all I 
could to get them to meet. But this design was 
frustrated ; and meanwhile the Bishop's leaving 
Rome for a time, and some further difficulties occur- 
ring to my mind, prevented me from taking any 
steps towards a public profession of the Faith. 

" Meanwhile, however, I wrote home, and com- 
municated to my parents the convictions of my 
mind, and expressed plainly my design of becoming 
a Catholic. I had not done so at an earlier period, 


solely to avoid giving them pain, and with a view 
of having my own judgment more unbiassed. The 
shock, I knew, to them would be dreadful, and I 
think I would have given my life to avoid inflicting 
such a wound on those I loved so dearly, and by 
whom I was equally beloved. In reply, two letters 
were sent to me within a few days, beseeching me 
to do nothing, to return home, and take another 
year for consideration. But to this I could not 
yield ; my convictions were too strong, and had I 
resisted them, I should have felt unworthy of the 
light God had given me. I resolved, therefore, 
with as little delay as possible, to make my Abjura- 
tion, though my heart was nearly broken by the 
struggle between natural affection and duty to my 
God. Yet how thankful do I now feel, that deeply 
as I suffered, I can say before God I never cast 
a backward thouorht. But I would not endure 
what I then did, for thousands of worlds. My own 
heart bleeding at every pore was not enough— there 
were those who came constantly to cast salt on my 
wounds. I recall one evening particularly, when 
almost worn out I had thrown myself on my bed, 
when a visitor was announced : a gentleman who 
the winter before had made proposals to me, which 
I had rejected. I guessed the cause of his visit, 
and sent to say I was gone to bed— no matter, he 
must either return, or see me then. I chose the 


latter, and rose. After tormenting me for a full 
hour, to find out whether the rumours he had heard 
about me were true, and I refusing to give him any 
satisfaction, he at length began to feign to feel only 
for my relatives, and represented the affliction it 
would cause my poor father. Ah, what it then cost 
me to assume indifference ! which I was obliged to 
do, as I was determined not to acquaint him with 
my intentions, he having told me he had another 
question to put which depended on my reply. What 
the nature of that was, I knew pretty well, and my 
own mind on that head had been long made up ; you 
also know my sentiments too well not to believe 
I was quite satisfied he should not propose it. At 
length, finding all means in vain to make me declare 
myself, he went away. I think it was the same 
night, though I am not sure, that I w^as hardly 
asleep, when a friend broke in upon my rest, to 
entreat me to call in the morning on certain noble- 
man, noted for his Protestant zeal, and who was 
most anxious to see me before leaving Rome. I 
went, and, believe me, I spent six hours with him 
and his lady in constant disputation on the subject ; 
during which time I had to swallow several insult- 
ing things, such as being told I was only fit for a 
madhouse, &c., but God gave me patience and 
undisturbed equanimity, and courage to express my 
sentiments fully, and we took leave in mutual 


charity, I more than ever convinced, but ready to 
drop from exhaustion both of mind and body. 

" That God stood by me in these encounters I 
cannot doubt ; for though naturally of a quick 
temper, I never felt even internally ruffled, and 
do not recollect ever having made use of an expres- 
sion to any of them, for which I afterwards felt 
regret ; indeed it was always my most earnest 
prayer, before entering into discussion with any one, 
that God would enable me to meet them in the spirit 
of a follower of the meek and lowly Saviour ; and I 
hope, and do think. He granted my request, for most 
of my Protestant opponents acknowledged, even to 
myself, that if I was erring in judgment, my spirit 
was at least that of a Christian. Some of their 
acknowledgments were curious enough. One bid 
me farewell, saying he was very sorry I was taking 
such a view of things, but he had no fear for my soul. 

'' Another, who had carried with him a ponderous 
volume, by way of bringing me light, after hearing 
me relate the progress of my convictions, and the 
process I was following to attain truth, took up 
his book and walked away, saying, * I shall leave 
you to your Heavenly Father, for if there be a 
God who hears and answers prayer He must lead 
you right! One told me I was going to embrace 
the Catholic faith from the love of martyrdom. 
Another came to dissuade me from taking my 


final Step, saying I was carried away. As this 
was a friend to whom I had opened my mind very 
freely, who was thoroughly acquainted with my 
motives, the unexpected accusation threw me into 
a passion of tears, and clasping my hands together, 
I exclaimed, * Are you too turned against me ? — 
by what can I be carried away ? ' * By your love 
to your Saviour,' replied she, * which I believe 
would lead you to die for Him.' 'That motive 
cannot lead me astray/ thought I. How strange 
and inconsistent ! 

" I had already made, both to Bishop Baines and 
Cardinal Odescalchi, a declaration of my intention 
of entering the Catholic Church, when I received 
from my father the above-mentioned letter, which 
almost quite overwhelmed me. Too conscientious 
himself to ask me to act contrary to my conscience, 
he only entreated me, by all that he thought would 
move me most, to wait till I had more ample 
means of information before I took any decisive 
step. God knows, and He alone, what it cost 
me to persevere in my intention of making my 
Abjuration without delay ; but by the help of His 
grace I did so, well knowing that I had already 
had abundant means of information ; that I had 
considered the subject deeply and with much 
earnest prayer, and my judgment was perfectly 
convinced. To wait therefore till my return home, 


would only have been to put myself in danger 
of allowing the decisions of my conscience to be 
warped by the affections of my heart ; and to 
have exposed myself to great and unceasing trials, 
without those aids and consolations which religion 
could afford. The day was accordingly fixed for 
my making a public profession of my faith ; but 
ere the day arrived, a kind Providence ordered it 
so, that the very opportunity my parents could 
have wished, for my having all that could be 
advanced on the Protestant side, by an able Divine 
of that communion, was presented to me, by the 
arrival in Rome of the celebrated Mr. Benson. 
Having understood from a friend, that sometime 
previous I had expressed a wish to converse with 
him, he kindly offered me a visit, which I readily 
accepted. I was anxious that this meeting should 
have taken place in the presence of Bishop Baines, 
but this Mr. Benson positively declined, and there- 
fore, with the entire approval of the Bishop, I 
received him alone. I endeavoured, of course, tc 
keep the discussion on the main point, the rule 
of faith ; but from this Mr. Benson soon shifted, 
and ran out into several of the usual Protestant 
objections, as to the intercession of the saints 
being in opposition to the one Mediatorship of 
Christ, &c., but he got into so many perplexities 
and contradictions, that I remained more deeply con- 


vinced than ever ; and I believe grateful to perceive 
that the evidence on the side of Truth became only- 
clearer the more it was combated, and that talents 
and learning were employed against her in vain. 

''The i6th of June, to me the most memorable 
day of my life, at length arrived, and the state of my 
mind you may better conceive than I can express. 
I was spending the morning In prayer that God 
would support me, when the crown was put to my 
sufferings by my dearest Protestant friend in Rome 
(who had promised to be present) sending to say 
she could not come. I nearly sank under this 
addition to my trial, at the moment I stood most 
in need of support. But calling to mind that my 
Saviour in his last tremendous hour was forsaken 
of all, I threw myself on my knees, saying, ' Lord, 
if it be Thy will that it should be thus with me too, 
it Is enough — the disciple should be as his Lord — 
grant me only Thy presence.' 

" At the appointed hour I was conducted to the 
chapel of His Eminence Cardinal Odescalchi, where, 
In the presence of the Bishop, several other prelates, 
and persons of high respectability, both English and 
Italian, I made my Abjuration, and was thus received 
Into the bosom of the Catholic Church, where, not- 
withstanding the trials and afflictions I have had to 
endure, I enjoy a peace and tranquillity of mind I 
would not exchange for any worldly enjoyment. 


** I shall now close the recital you asked of me, 
and which conducts me to the painful yet happy 
moment when, kneeling by you, I made my first 
confession. Accept, dear Father in Jesus Christ, 
my grateful thanks for your kind indulgence towards 
me then, and for the care you have exercised over 
my soul, and the sympathy you have expressed in 
my sorrows ever since. I pray that you may 
receive an ample recompense in the kingdom of our 
Saviour ; and when I shall no longer have it in my 
power to consult you as my spiritual guide to that 
blessed region of peace to which alone my heart 
aspires, think of sometimes, and pray for your obe- 
dient and devoted daughter in Jesus Christ, 

**Anne Agnes Trail." 

" As it may be an object of interest to some of my 
friends to know who were the individuals who 
witnessed my Abjuration of error, and my admission 
into the one true Church of our Lord and Saviour 
Jesus Christ, in which I anew subscribe my firm faith, 
after having had the happiness of being a member 
of it for nearly five years, I shall add to the above 
letters, which were written about four years since, a 
list of the names. 

''My Abjuration was received by His Eminence 
Cardinal Prince Odescalchi, and witnessed by the 
Right Rev. Peter Augustine Baines, D.D., Bishop 


of Siga, and VIcar-Apostolic of the Western District 
of England. 

'* Monsignor Drummond, Duke of Melford. 

" Don Remlglo Crescini, the learned and pious 
Abbot of the great Benedictine Convent of St. 
Giovanni at Parma, then at Rome to be conse- 
crated Bishop of Parma, and afterwards Cardinal. 
He furnished the letters to the ecclesiastics at Rome, 
though I had not then his personal acquaintance. 

" B. Vincenzo Beni, Abbot. 

** Monsignor Zacchia. 

'''Rev. Anthony Magee, Friar of the SS. Apos- 
toli, mentioned above. 

'' Rev. Don Lorenzo Lucidi, since created Prelate 
and private chamberlain to His Holiness Gregory 

'' The two chaplains of Cardinal Odescalchi. 

"The Chevalier Novone and his lady. 

" Lady Arundell. 

" Miss Mendoza di Reas. 

" Madame Chaupegros. 

" The Marchesa Testoli, sister to Cardinal Odes- 
calchi, and two daughters. 

" The Countess Van Millingen and her daughter, 
lady of honour to H.R.H. the Duchess of Lucca. 

'' A Jewish convert. 

" Mr. Cook, an American gentlemen and Pro- 




Thus far our readers have followed Miss Trail's 
narrative as she has herself left it to us. It only- 
remains now to supplement her own words by a 
brief account of her life as a Catholic, and finally as 
a Religious. 

After her reception into the true Fold, she ex- 
perienced much kindness from the leading English 
Catholics residing in Rome, among whom Lord 
and Lady Arundell of Wardour, and Lord and 
Lady Clifford, were always foremost in every good 
and charitable work ; and they showed the utmost 
cordiality to the new and fervent convert, making 
her welcome to their houses, and aiding her in 
acquiring the instruction she required, to become 
familiar with Catholic practice as well as doctrine. 

She received Confirmation from the hands of 


Cardinal OdescalchI, who administered this sacra- 
ment to her In his private chapel. 

Miss Trail was as assiduous as ever in the use of 
her pencil, and her art enabled her to carry away 
valuable souvenirs of her friends. Thus she took a 
likeness of Bishop Baines ; and having accomplished 
this, she ventured to ask Cardinal OdescalchI for a 
sitting. His Eminence refused the request ; but 
Miss Trail returned to the charge, till, at last, the 
Cardinal repeated his refusal so positively, that she 
felt it useless to urge him further ; and made up 
her mind to think no more about the matter. 

Not so the Cardinal. He was already preparing 
to exchange the purple for the humble garb of a 
son of St. Ignatius ; — he was already practising the 
counsels of that great saint. While Miss Trail was 
sitting alone at dinner that same day, the Cardinal's 
man-servant was announced ; he came, carrying his 
master's robes, and saying that his Eminence would 
follow shortly. 

By-and-bye the good Cardinal arrived. Miss 
Trail expressed her pleasure and surprise at so un- 
expected a visit, and he replied, that when making 
his mid-day examination of conscience, he felt that 
he had spoken to her with some hastiness, and 
therefore, by way of penance, he had come to 
accede to her request. The portrait was painted 
accordingly, and is now at St. Margaret's Convent, 


a precious remembrance of this saintly prince of the 

A few pleasant weeks were spent at Sublaco in 
the summer of 1828 ; then followed another winter 
and spring in Rome ; and having received the 
blessing of the Holy Father, and bade adieu to 
the many friends to whom she had become much 
attached, and by whom she was sincerely regretted, 
Miss Trail left Italy on the 6th June 1829, and 
reached her home at Panbrlde at the end of 

Of course it was a trial both to her family and 
herself to meet again under circumstances so diffe- 
rent to what they had formerly been ; but the strong 
conviction that she had acted from conscientious 
motives had its due weight with Mr. Trail, and his 
affection for his daughter never changed ; while she 
devoted herself to the task of softening the pre- 
judice of her family and giving them an insight into 
Catholic doctrine whenever an opportunity for doing 
so presented itself 

She was not destined to remain long at home. 

Her eyes had been overstrained by close applica- 
tion to miniature painting; she was obliged to lay 
down her pencil, and at last was recommended to 
go to London to consult an eminent oculist. She 
left Scotland in October 1830, litde thinking on 
the future which was in store for her. 


By a providential arrangement Miss Trail went 
to reside at the Benedictine Convent at Hammer- 
smith, where a limited number of lady boarders 
were received, and here she remained for the three 
following years. Cardinal Weld, who had resided 
at the Convent, and had just been summoned to 
Rome to be invested with the purple, left all 
his store of artist's materials to Miss Trail, 
who was well known to him through Lord and 
Lady Clifford. The Cardinal's paint-box, palettes, 
colours, &c., w^ere highly prized by her, and many 
of these things are still at St. Margaret's Convent. 

Lord Arundell of Wardour invited Miss Trail 
to his Castle of Wardour, where she passed some 
months from January till the Easter of 1832 ; then 
followed other visits, and in autumn she made 
some stay in Somersetshire. 

Her friends began to wonder where she would 
ultimately settle. The Convent at Hammersmith 
was her residence when at home, but she did 
not regard it as a permanent abode. It w^as 
suggested to her to enter a religious Community ; 
the Countess de Senfft-Pilsach wished her to go 
to the newly-founded Society of the Sacred Heart, 
others urged the Benedictines of the Perpetual 
Adoration, or the Third Order of St. Francis at 
Taunton. Though full of love and esteem for 
these holy orders, they did not entirely satisfy her 


desires, which turned to her native land ; and she 
waited on, In the hope that her way might be 
made plain to her. 

Having returned to Hammersmith In the summer 
of 1832, she was Introduced to a young Scotch 
priest, the Rev. James Gillis, who being ac- 
quainted with the chaplain of the Convent had 
been invited to dine with him. The conversation 
naturally turned on Scotland, and Miss Trail was 
much interested in all she heard ; more especially, 
when Mr. Gillis mentioned his earnest wish to 
found a religious Community for the instruction 
of young girls in Edinburgh. He was then on 
his way to Spain, and she hoped to have the 
opportunity of meeting him on his return ; but 
this not occurring, she wrote to him, asking if his 
project were likely to be realised, and requesting 
some details respecting the general plan of the 
proposed establishment, as she says, *' I have some 
thoughts of entering the religious state, and for 
many reasons I should prefer a convent in my 
native land, were It an order of which I could 
become a member, with the hope of being useful." 

Mr. Gillis answered this letter, by saying that 
his plans had been delayed by the lapse of time 
before the nomination of a bishop, to succeed 
Bishop Paterson, but he gave her the desired 
information respecting the Congregation of the 


Ursullnes of Jesus, and expressed his belief that 
if it were the will of God that Miss Trail should 
become a member of the proposed Community, 
she would certainly be a very useful addition. 
He adds, ** I certainly think before God, that it 
is the duty of every Catholic in these countries, 
to devote their all to the good of religion at home, 
in preference to other countries, unless Providence 
evidently wills and disposes it otherwise. There 
is a wide field opened here just now : God grant 
that it may be well cultivated ; and here I dismiss 
the subject, as I would not wish to influence you 
in the least, to one way more than the other." 

Some months were still to elapse before any 
decision was made respecting the proposed estab- 

Miss Trail wrote to Mr. Gillis on the 5th Feb- 
ruary 1833, being anxious to fix her future mode of 
life, and, above all, desirous of devoting herself to 
Scotland. She asks, " What prospects of success 
have you, in your interesting project of establishing 
a convent in our Northern capital ? My heart 
longs to see such a glorious work begun, and I have 
now full permission to offer my poor services if they 
will be acceptable. . . . 

I fully enter into your ideas of its being our duty, 
unless Providence clearly shows it otherwise, to 


devote our services in the first instance to our own 
country. This has made me decHne a most kind 
offer from the noble Count and Countess de Senfft- 
Pilsach to enter a foreign convent, and still makes 
me hesitate in accepting an equally generous offer 
in the West of England ; but it appears to me that 
I cannot do so much longer without thwarting the 
designs of Providence in my regard ; and, therefore, 
I must beg, if possible, an immediate answer to this. 
I wish my intention to be kept quiet till the consent 
of my parents has been obtained, and till all is settled 
for my retirement from a scene which my heart 
has loner res^arded as a desert, and to which I shall 
willingly bid adieu." 

She soon received a satisfactory reply to this 
letter. Mr. Gillis says, " I am now, I hope, on the eve 
of seeinof this most desirable institution commenced, 
and I am more and more convinced every day that 
the real difficulties in works of this kind do not lie 
in the want of financial resources, nor in the opposi- 
tion which they may chance to meet with from the 
world, but in the unworthiness of those who under- 
take them, and ^/lai^ obstacle alone do I fear in the 
present instance. I speak not of others, but of 
myself. Pray that God may make me more worthy 
of serving the interests of His Church, and Edin- 
burgh will soon be blessed with the proposed estab- 


On the 17th April 1833, he writes again to 
say that he has the " Bishop's full consent to the 
estabHshment of the Convent, and the exclusive 
management of the means whereby to carry it into 
effect. You may therefore look upon the thing 
now as entirely settled, and to be set about without 

Mr. Gillis started, in company with Bishop Scott 
of Glasgow, for London and Paris, in the course 
of the week following the date of the last letter. 
From Paris he wrote again (14th June), giving Miss 
Trail directions as to her journey to France. He 
tells her that Miss Clapperton will join her in 
London, and that on arriving in Paris they will be 
hospitably received at the Convent of the Dames 
dii St. Sacrement, Rtie des Posies. He recommends 
her to take some English books to Chavagnes, as 
it is of importance that she should teach as much 
English as possible, to the French Sisters who are 
to return to Scotland with her. 

The last arrangements were now quickly made. 
Mr. Gillis requested Miss Clapperton to be in 
London if possible by the 31st July, and there she 
met Miss Trail for the first time, and in due course 
they left London for Paris, as has been already 
narrated in the early pages of this work. We have 
also seen . that she and her companion received the 
Religious Habit at Chavagnes on Rosary Sunday, 


1833, from the hands of Mr. Gillis. He had in- 
tended prolonging his stay in Paris, but was sud- 
denly called home to Fochabers by the illness of 
his father. Miss Trail, whom we shall henceforth 
call by her religious name, Sister Agnes Xavier, 
wrote him a letter of condolence, and at the same 
time gave Interesting details of her life at Cha- 
vagnes, In preparation for the foundation at Edin- 

The two Scotch Novices were very highly 
esteemed at the Mother House, and the whole 
enterprise excited so much enthusiasm, that the 
number of volunteers for the Scotch foundation far 
exceeded what was required for the occasion. 
During her novitiate Sister Agnes Xavier gave 
lessons, not only In English, but In painting; and 
she herself obtained a much-valued portrait of the 
venerable founder of the Congregation, the Abb6 
Louis Marie Baudouin. He had often been asked 
to allow his likeness to be taken, but he would 
never consent. His spiritual children were most 
anxious to obtain a resemblance of his much-loved 
and revered features, and this was accomplished, 
under difficulties It must be owned, by Sister 
Agnes Xavier. 

It was the custom of Pere Baudouin to give 
religious instruction to the Novices on certain fixed 
days. He took his place at the upper end of the 


large novitiate and the Sisters sat in rows before 
him. It was during these instructions, and un- 
known to the venerable Priest; that Sister Agnes 
Xavier painted an excellent likeness of him. She 
placed herself where she could see him perfectly and 
yet be unnoticed by him. She narrowly escaped 
detection on one occasion when the instruction was 
concluded more quickly than usual. Every one rose 
suddenly, and the poor artist had barely an instant 
to gather her brushes, &c., together, and conceal her 
work from view. Pere Baudouin never knew what 
had been done till the colony had left Chavagnes 
for Scotland, and then a letter from a lithographer 
in Paris, charged with copying the miniature by 
lithography, fell into his hands, and revealed the 
secret. He was much annoyed, but the congrega- 
tion rejoiced over the success of the little plot. The 
original miniature was brought to St. Margaret's. 
Sister Agnes Xavier left a copy at the Mother House, 
and it is from this likeness that the small engravings 
and medals of the venerable father have been 

The time spent at Chavagnes passed quickly and 
profitably to the fervent Novices, whose sole desire 
was to fit themselves for their future career, and to 
render themselves w^orthy labourers in the field that 
was whitening for the harvest. 

When the time came for the little band of Sisters 


to leave Chavagnes and turn their faces northwards, 
we may well Imagine how joyfully the two Scotch 
Novices set forth on their journey home. The 
generosity with which the French Religious entered 
upon the new foundation, with all the sacrifices It 
entailed, softened the trial of separation from their 
country, and filled them likewise with that happiness 
which the world can neither give nor take away. 

Sister Agnes Xavler's brother — Captain Anthony 
Trail — was most helpful to the travellers In London ; 
and the Benedictine Community at Hammersmith, 
where Sister Agnes Xavier had so long resided, now 
once more welcomed her back with her companions 
for a few days' rest, en roiUe for Edinburgh. 

The long journey came to an end at last, and 
with thankful hearts the little band of zealous, 
devoted Sisters reached the temporary abode that 
kind friends had provided for them, till the Convent 
should be ready to receive its inmates. 




When crossing the threshold of St. Margaret's on 
St. Stephen's Day, 1834, Sister Agnes Xavier may 
well have echoed the words of the Royal Psalmist, 
" This is my rest for ever : here will I dwell, for I 
have chosen it." During the many years that she 
lived, never, for one day, was she absent from the 

She devoted herself to a Religious life, its duties 
and work, with all the energy of her nature and 
all the love of her heart. 

Having entered religion at a more advanced 
period of life than is usual for embracing a new 
career, it may be imagined that many little trials 
were inevitable to her. She had hitherto been so 
completely her own mistress, that the mere fact of 
being constantly submissive to others might be 
supposed to have caused her much difficulty. But 
it was not so. She was as humble and docile as a 


child, and her example was a constant source of 
admiration and edification to the whole Community. 
Her cheerful spirit enabled her to accept every 
sacrifice, and. Indeed, she counted it *' all joy " when 
she could offer a holocaust of thanksgiving to God, 
for all that He had done for her soul. 

Her life was henceforth externally uneventful, but 
it was surely precious in the sight of God. She had 
her share of teaching in the school, and for years 
conducted the classes of Christian doctrine and 
sacred history, while her artistic talent naturally 
placed her at the head of the drawing-class. 

She continued the exercise of her own pencil, and 
was frequently requested to execute work by those 
who remembered her skill. To her the Community 
Is Indebted for miniatures of Bishop Gillls, Mr. 
Menzies, Mrs. Colonel Hutchison, and others: be- 
sides the paintings which she had finished in Italy, 
and which she brought to St. Margaret's. 

But more than all her other occupations for the 
good of others, did she value the opportunities given 
her of helping souls to see and embrace the true 
faith. She never lost an occasion of saying a timely 
word, offering an instructive book, or suggesting a 
prayer for the gift of faith. Her genuine frankness 
and kindly manner won all hearts, and though she 
spoke very plainly, she never gave offence. How 
many now live to bless her memory, and thank God 


for the first visit to the Convent, which led to an 
acquaintance with her. 

Her own relatives frequently visited her, and the 
affectionate intercourse with her family was never 
interrupted. The younger generation of nephews 
and nieces were much attached to "Aunt Ann;" 
and the following lines written by her nephew, Mr. 
David Trail Christie, will express the feelings of the 
family : — 

" How vivid must ever remain my recollections 
of her bright, affectionate and genial spirit, her 
quick and sympathetic intelligence, and what — 
though differing, I could always appreciate and 
admire— her ardent devotion to the life she had 
embraced, and her earnest desire that all her 
kindred should be led to see truth from the stand- 
point she had realised and made her own. 

" Speaking as for those of my family on the Trail 
side— now, alas ! no more — I can say how sincere was 
the brotherly and sisterly Interest and affection with 
which, notwithstanding divergence of views, she was 
ever regarded. No less fully can I testify to the 
Avarmth with which this feeling was reciprocated on 
her part, a proof that strength of opposite convic- 
tions is not Incompatible with that charity that 
' hopeth all things.' 

** Though the days of my more frequent visits 
to the Convent are receding into the background 


as the years pass by, the bright and pleasant 
picture of her presence will ever remain fresh in 
my memory." 

Another nephew of Sister Agnes Xavler (now 
Colonel David Henry Trail, R.E.) obtained per- 
mission, only granted as a very rare exception, to 
take a photograph of his aunt. His successful like- 
ness of her Is highly valued by her family and by the 
Community, and Is reproduced In this volume. 

One of her special characteristics was her de- 
votion to the Holy See. She had imbibed this 
truly Catholic Instinct at the fountalnhead, and It 
Increased with years, and In proportion to the 
sorrows of the Holy Father, which grieved her 
as much as If they had affected her personally. On 
the other hand, any good news from Rome, intelli- 
gence about conversions, elections favourable to the 
cause of religion and good order, were to her causes 
of heartfelt rejoicing. She had a large number of 
friends In England and on the Continent, who kept 
her informed of such public events as they knew 
would Interest her, and enlist her sympathy and 
prayers. She entered warmly Into the union of 
prayer for the conversion of England, Instituted by 
her old friend the Hon. and Rev. Father Spencer; 
and it was with unflagging Interest that she read 
accounts of missions, retreats, foundations of new 
churches or convents, or Indeed anything that 


proved the increase of Catholicity in England and 

Time passed swiftly away, and, as Father Faber 
says, "Years rob us as they go," and so it was 
that many old friends were taken, one by one, and 
Sister Agnes Xavier more and more turned her 
face heavenward. The death of Bishop Gillis 
was an inexpressible sorrow to her, and it was 
not long after his decease that her own health 
began to decline, and by degrees she relinquished 
her more active duties in the Community. 

A slight shock of paralysis occurred a few years 
before her death, and this still more obliged her 
to withdraw from outward occupations. Though 
bodily strength declined, her warm heart retained 
its loving nature, and nothing pleased her more 
than to see old friends and relatives, and to join 
the Community whenever her health permitted. 

She never omitted her religious exercises, wjiich 
were daily performed with the greatest fervour, 
and when unable to read, her rosary was her 
constant companion. 

On the 2 2d November 1872, she was taken 
suddenly ill, and the following day she received 
the last sacraments from the hands of Father 
Williams, S.J. During the remaining days of 
her life, the Bishop called frequently to see her. 
Father O'Donnell came over from Falkirk, to her 


^reat joy ; and other friends were assiduous in 
their kind inquiries. She survived till the 3rd 
December, the Feast of her beloved Patron, St. 
Francis Xavier, when she calmly breathed her last, 
a little after nine p.m., surrounded by her Sisters ; 
who, while grieving over their own loss, rejoiced 
at her great gain. They had the consolation of 
knowing that her last days had been perfectly 
peaceful ; and indeed the expression of her counten- 
ance before death, was as if the joys of heaven 
were already hers. Her brother, the Rev. Dr. 
Trail, and Mrs. Trail, with some other members 
of the family, assisted at the funeral, which was 
attended by a considerable number of the clergy. 

Sister Agnes Xavier could never be forgotten 
by any one who had ever known her. She pre- 
served her own strong individuality throughout 
life, and was thoroughly original, so true-hearted 
and sincere in all her ways, so perfecdy reliable 
as a friend and adviser ! All the Community felt 
her loss ; and though her declining state had In 
a measure separated her from the Sisters, still, 
when the end came, every one felt that the blank 
could never be filled up 

This chapter may be appropriately concluded 
by a letter from Miss O'Nell Daunt, who con- 
tributes some of her own reminiscences of her 
school days, thus recalling the beloved names of 


Sister Agnes Xavier and Mother Mary Angela 
(so long associated together in the memory of all 
old pupils of St. Margaret's), and giving some 
anecdotes of both, which may be interesting to 
our readers : — 

" KiLCASCAN Castle, Ballyneen, 
''April iZ?>6. 

" My Dear Mother M S .—It delighted 

me to hear that you intend publishing a memoir 
of St. Margaret's at an early date ; and my pleasure, 
you may be sure, will be shared by all who have 
spent their school-days within the dear old Convent 
walls. Now that you are about to celebrate the 
jubilee year of its foundation, one rejoices that so 
many of the old Religious still survive ; but one 
thinks all the more sadly and regretfully of those 
who have passed away. 

*' It is thirty-one years since I went first to school 
at St. Margaret's, although I can remember every 
circumstance attending my entrance as if it were 
but yesterday. 

" It was just about the time that an alteration in 
what may be called the management of the Convent 
had been effected. The French Sisters had re- 
turned to their own country, and dear Mother Mary 
Angela had been nominated Superioress. I re- 
collect so well Bishop Gillis conducting her to the 
school to receive our congratulations. She was 


crying, and quite nervous at the idea of the great 
responsibiHty placed upon her shoulders. I parti- 
cularly remember dear old Sister Agnes Xavier's 
face on that occasion. It was beaming with satis- 
faction, and even then I felt struck by the humility 
and child-like simplicity which seemed to charac- 
terise all her dealings with her ''Mother." The 
word fell quaintly from her lips, considering the 
great advantage which she had in age, over her 
young Superior. 

" Sister Agnes Xavier at this period of my re- 
miniscences, always presided over the class of 
Christian doctrine, and to us little ones, the half 
hour of Catechism was rather a formidable affair. 
We all understood that, as drawing-mistress, her 
eyes were especially precious to her, and to defend 
those eyes from the glare of the school-room lire, 
a chair, with a green cloth thrown over it, had 
always to be placed at a specified distance from 
the place where she sat. If this chair was not at 
the precise angle required, we had invariably to 
undergo a lecture on distance and perspective. 

" As a convert from Protestantism, you know 
how perfectly conversant she was with the Bible. 
How clear and well-defined her explanations of 
the Christian doctrine were, we can all remember. 
Long after I had left school, on re-visiting St. 
Margaret's, I happened to spend some time in 


conversation with her. She told me, with such 
evident pleasure, that an old pupil of hers had 
become a Catholic, principally by means of her re- 
ligious instruction, which had made an ineffaceable 
impression on her mind. 

** She was full of faith ; — a faith that seemed to 
touch and taste. Do you remember her at Mass 
and Benediction ? Sometimes we caught a glimpse 
of her face at these times. Her eyes used to be 
fixed on the altar, and her lips moved, while her 
smile and her whole expression showed that she 
was really speaking to our Lord, as a friend might 
speak to a dear and trusted friend. We used to 
remark to each other, * Did you notice Sister 
Agnes Xavier's face ? How sweet and child-like 
she looked ! ' 

** But, with all her kindness and simplicity, she 
could be very decided on certain occasions. I 
remember once, when she was conducting a party 
of Protestant visitors through the house, she omitted, 
for some good reason, to take them to the school- 
room — the old schoolroom in those days, with its 
large bay window abutting on the garden. On 
seeing the window from the outside, one of the 
ladies exclaimed in an aggrieved tone, ' Why, 
here is a room you have not shown us. I hate 
underhand proceedings ! ' ' For making that re- 
mark,' rejoined Sister Agnes Xavier, quietly, 


* you shall not see anything further to-day,' and 
she marshalled the discomfited party to the gate. 
I think It served them very right, for even in a 
convent, persons of another faith should remember 
their good breeding, and be convinced that under 
the disguise of habit and veil, there are many whose 
feet neither Protestant nor Catholic is worthy to 

" I do not think she had a particle of human 
respect. She always said and did what appeared 
to her to be right. Even as a girl she told me 
how she exasperated her uncle, a dignitary of the 
Irish Protestant Church/ by espousing the cause 
of the then down-trodden Catholic population, and 
by her avowed admiration of the political principles 
of Daniel O'Connell. 

*' She was a devoted daughter of the Holy See. 
In former days a prolonged residence in Rome had 
made her personally acquainted with more than one 
Pontiff. She always expressed the utmost distrust 
of the tortuous policy of the third Napoleon ; and 
she had, on the contrary, the utmost respect for 
the late Comte de Chambord and all his house. 
These political opinions had been formed pardy 
in Vendee, which is the cradle of Legitimacy in 

1 The Right Reverend James Trail, D.D., Bishop of Down and 


Then, to descend to lesser matters, can we not 
all recall the interest she took in her museum, and 
in the Community library ? Her whole heart 
seemed to be in whatever she undertook ; and, as 
a consequence, such things as were under her 
charge, flourished. At stated periods she used to 
take some of us school girls to assist in dusting out 
the books. When each one was intrusted with a 
hare's foot, a bird's wing, a duster, and a book to 
operate upon, we felt a solemn sense of responsi- 
bility settle upon our spirits ; and knew that, with 
Sister Agnes Xavier's eye upon us, our task must 
needs be conscientiously performed. To reward 
us she would often make a descent to the kitchen 
and return with tart, or other sweet thing, to revive 
our fainting energies. 

*' Of course, her chief employment was that of 
drawing mistress ; and she, who was a thorough 
artist, knew well how to develop the talent which 
lay in the minds and fingers of her pupils. In 
the French octavo life of the Venerable M. L. 
Baudouin, one meets with several references to our 
dear old Sister Agnes Xavier, to her genius for 
miniature painting, and to the favourable impression 
which her humility (above all other virtues) and 
talents, had made on the minds of the nuns of the 
Mother House of the Order in Chavagnes. 

*' How I have run on in my reminiscences of 


her ! Time would fall me to write as I ought 
either of her, or of Mother Mary Angela and 
others, whose names occur to me now. 

''What old pupil of St. Margaret's can forget 
Mother Mary Angela ? With what loving care 
did she not watch over each one of us ! She 
was so tender, so like a mother with us, each 
and all. 

** But beyond everything else her religious instruc- 
tions dwell with me. She seemed on fire when 
she spoke of God, or the truths of faith, and her 
thoughts often seemed to flow too rapidly for 
utterance. While I was at school, it was always 
her province to prepare the children for their first 
communion. I am very sure that not one who 
had the privilege of being her pupil on those 
occasions, can ever forget the fervour and strength 
of her instructions. If we are not all saints in 
heaven one day, it certainly will not have been 
her fault ! 

" I should never cease were I to recount all the 
Instances I remember of her humility, her patience, 
her love of the poor, her self-denial. And then, 
she was so simple, and so child-like ! 

''Do you remember once in 1859 or i860, an 
excursion we made to the Pentland Hills? It 
was a lovely summer morning, and we set out at 
four o'clock, taking only a small bit of bread in our 

2 A 


pockets, as the baskets containing provisions were to 
follow later. We arrived at the hills, and saw the sun 
rise. We had eaten our bread, and looked forward 
to the arrival of the baskets. Vain hope ! They 
did not come. Some of the little ones became 
very hungry, and then Mother Mary Angela — 
Reverend Mother — took out of her pocket her 
untasted bread, and divided it among the hungriest. 
She had eaten nothing herself. Later on, some 
of us girls accompanied one or two of the Sisters 
on a quest for bread and milk. On our return we 
found Reverend Mother seated in a plantation, with 
the rest of the children, devouring hotch potch, 
out of basins with great horn spoons, greatly to 
Mother Mary Angela's delight ; for in negotiations 
about the hotch potch, she had been mistaken 
for a beggar by a good woman at a farm- 
house. It was the Presbyterian fast-day, and all 
the family were at the kirk but the mistress of 
the house, who bestowed a quantity of the good 
broth and oatmeal bannocks in charity. Late 
in the evening, I am glad to say, the strayed 
baskets arrived, and we revenged ourselves on 
their contents. 

*' I do not think you could give Reverend Mother 
greater delight than by giving her something for 
the poor. Her face used to flush with pleasure. 
All her actions were full of thouo^htfulness for 


Others. Even when suffering herself, she would 
strive to repress all outward signs of pain, and busy 
herself about the comfort of those around her. 

" Butj as I said before, I should never come to 
an end were I to go over all the incidents of school 
life. You see how they, and the actors in them, 
are embalmed in my memory. 

" The last whom you have lost, Sister Mary 
Stanislaus, I made my first acquaintance with 
thirty-two years ago. During my school life, and 
at subsequent periods, I never remember to have 
seen her impatient, or even ruffled. She was always 
so sweet-tempered, kind, and sympathetic ! 

" I hope that the dear old mistresses of our 
school days will unite from heaven with the Jubilee 
of the Convent that was their home on earth ; and 
that they will not forget to pray for us, who love 
their memories. 

"To sum up, dear Mother M S , I 

really do not think that there Is elsewhere a 
convent like our Alma Mater, nor any other women 
who can look back, as we do, with equal joy and 
thankfulness to the days spent under its sheltering 
roof. At least, I have never met any one who 
appeared to entertain for the convent where she 
was educated, the same feelings with which we 
regard St. Margaret's. — Yours very affectionately, 

" IsMENE O'Neil Daunt." 

( 372 ; 



*' Quid retrlbuam Domino pro omnibus quae retri- 
bult mlhl ? " These words best express the feel- 
ings of every Sister at St. Margaret's, when the 
Reverend Mother made known that his Grace the 
Archbishop had decided that the celebration of the 
Golden Jubilee should take place on St. Margaret's 
Day, loth June 1886. 

In a preceding chapter of this book, our readers 
have seen that the anniversary of the foundation 
of the Convent had been privately commemorated 
on St. Stephen's Day — 26th December 1884 — the 
public festivities being deferred, till the mourning 
church of St. Andrews and Edinburgh should again 
possess an Archbishop, who would preside over and 
bless the proceedings connected with the Jubilee. 
The Archbishop having been consecrated, and the 
more pressing calls of his time and attention being 
satisfied, the Reverend Mother suggested that the 
Feast of St. Margaret would be an appropriate and 
auspicious day for the Jubilee celebration. His 


Grace acquiesced In the plan, and from that time 
every one took an active part in the preparations 
for the event. 

Nor was it in any selfish spirit that this festival 
was kept. It was looked upon as a thank-offering 
to Almighty God for the numberless graces of the 
last fifty years — graces bestowed not only on the 
Religious of St. Margaret's Convent, but on the 
whole country, by the progress of religion, the 
foundation of the numerous monastic and conven- 
tual establishments now existing, and the Incalcul- 
able good done by Religious of both sexes according 
to their holy Institutes. Who can tell what advan- 
tage souls have received by the ministry of the 
Fathers of the Society of Jesus, the Oblates of 
Mary, the Redemptorists, and others devoted to 
missionary labours ? while the sons and daughters 
of St. Benedict, in the retirement of their cloisters, 
implore the blessing of God on the labours of those 
who toil in the vineyard of the Lord. Since the 
foundation of St. Margaret's, how many convents 
have arisen where children are rescued from ignor- 
ance and vicious surroundings ; where the sick are 
lovingly tended ; where the erring are reclaimed, 
and where innocence Is guarded from even a breath 
of evil ! Surely In all this there Is much cause for 
deep gratitude, and the Sisters of St. Margaret's 
desired, while celebrating their Jubilee, to give 


expression to the joy which Is naturally elicited, 
by such retrospect of the past half century. 

The first thing, then, to be done, was to give 
glory to God ; — and, to ensure a grand act of 
thanksgiving throughout the length and breadth 
of the land, letters were sent to many other Re- 
ligious Communities announcing the Jubilee cele- 
bration, and begging that a " Te Deum" might be 
sung in union with St. Margaret's on the loth June. 
Most kind replies were received to these appeals, 
and sweet union of sisterly charity was never more 
clearly shown than by the cordial manner In which 
the Superiors of Communities responded, with affec- 
tionate congratulations and promises of prayers and 
thanksoflvinofs. These valued letters will be care- 
fully preserved as treasured souvenirs of the Jubilee 
in the archives of the Convent. 

The next duty calling for attention was the 
honour to be paid to St. Margaret, the holy and 
beneficent Queen whose gentle sway brought so 
many blessings to Scotland, and whose prayers are 
daily procuring fresh graces for the land she loved 
so well and ruled so wisely. 

The Relic of the Saint, brought by Bishop Glllis 
from the Escurlal In 1863, still remained under his 
seal in the cedar box in which he had placed It. 
This sacred Relic was now to be enshrined in a 
suitable Reliquary. Dr. GIllIs had himself selected 





the design, and it has been followed as nearly as 
possible and with consummate skill by Mr. Westren 
of Frederick Street, Edinburgh, to whom the task 
of making the Reliquary was confided. The relic is 
enclosed in a crystal cylinder, and is surrounded by 
clusters of Gothic pinnacles surmounted by a statue 
of St. Margaret. The base of the Reliquary is 
provided with a receptacle for the documents 
attesting the authenticity of the Relic. 

On the 8th June his Grace the Archbishop placed 
the Relic In its crystal case in readiness for the pro- 
cession which w^as to inaugurate the celebration. 

The taste and energy of the Sacristans were now 
called into requisition in their special department. 
In the adornment of the chapel we may suppose that 
the crypt was not overlooked. The resting-places 
of all who repose within its precincts were marked 
by wreaths of evergreens and Immortelles. The 
escutcheons of Bishop Gillls and Mr. Menzles of 
PItfodels were prominently placed, and a scroll 
with the verslcle, ** Requiem aeternum dona els 
Domine," was suspended above the altar, which 
was draped with black velvet, and furnished with a 
large crucifix and candles. 

In the chapel, the window behind the altar was 
partially screened, and, conspicuous in the centre, 
was a large statue of St. Margaret surrounded 
with palms and flowers. The altar was brilliant 


with lights and flowers — a throne for the Arch- 
bishop was placed on the epistle side of the sanc- 
tuary, and a prie-dieu for Archbishop Eyre on the 
gospel side. The sanctuaries of the side altars 
were furnished with seats for the clergy. The 
choir was filled with the Sisters and resident 
Pupils. The south aisle was partly occupied by 
the orchestra and singers, and the remaining space 
in the chapel was devoted to the Invited guests, who 
were all to be admitted by ticket. 

The house was carefully arranged and tastefully 
ornamented with plants. The class-rooms were 
used as sacristies for the accommodation of the 
numerous body of clergy who were expected. The 
Archbishop kindly lent his finest vestments for the 

At length the last preparations were completed, 
and at five o'clock p.m. on the 9th of June, the 
Archbishop was announced, and the first service of 
the Jubilee began. The Sisters Intoned a joyful 
chorus In honour of St. Margaret, the clergy entered 
the chapel, and then the Archbishop carried the 
Relic in solemn procession through the chapel and 
garden, and, returning, placed the Reliquary on a 
side altar especially prepared for Its reception. 
Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament followed. 

The Archbishop, clergy, and a select party of 
friends then adjourned to the schoolroom, where 


they were entertained by the young ladles with 
music, vocal and instrumental, and by recitations. 
A chorus, composed for the occasion, was sung ; a 
trio of violins and a charming violin solo, played 
by Madame Woycke, delighted the company. Miss 
Grace Kyan recited a poem, which had been com- 
posed by Dr. Horsley on the occasion of Mother 
Margaret Teresa's Jubilee, and which was perfectly 
appropriate to the present festival. The composi- 
tion and the manner in which it was rendered, elicited 
well-merited applause. 

The company then assembled for refreshments 
in the refectory. 

The eventful, long-looked-for loth of June at 
length arrived, unfortunately shrouded in mist and 
rain ; but if the material sun hid his face, there was 
so much bright sunshine In every heart, that the 
weather was scarcely heeded. After the morning 
masses and breakfast were concluded, the company 
began to arrive, and before eleven o'clock the 
chapel was full, every available space being occu- 
pied. The Sisters and Pupils took their places, and 
as a voluntary pealed forth from the organ, the pro- 
cession slowly defiled from the Convent buildings, 
crossing the garden, and entering the chapel by the 
great door. It was a beautiful and Impressive sight 
to see the long line of Acolytes and Clergy as they 
walked up the chapel and took their allotted station. 


Pontifical High Mass was sung by His Grace the 
Archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh. The 
Very Rev. Provost M'Kerrell was the assistant 
Priest; Very Rev. Canon Grady, V.G., and Canon 
Hannan were Deacons at the Throne ; and Brother 
Oswald Hunter Blair and Father M'Anaa, Deacon 
and Sub-Deacon of the Mass. Canon Donlevy 
acted as Master of Ceremonies. Besides those 
already named, there were In the Sanctuary the 
Most Rev. Archbishop Eyre, attended by Canon 
Macguire and Father M'Lachlan of Glasgow, Canon 
Macmanus, Canon Grogan, Canon Goldle, Canon 
Meagher, Very Rev. William Dean Clapperton, 
Very Rev. Robert Dean Clapperton, Father Gordon, 
Father Morris, Father Malcolm, Father Turner, 
Father Griffin, Father Whyte, S.J. ; Father Selby, 
S.J. ; Father Pittar, S.J. ; Father Stevenson, S.J. ; 
Father Gray, S.J. ; Father Charles Gordon, S.J. ; 
Father Kenny, S.J. ; the Very Rev. Prior Vaughan, 
O.S.B. ; Father O'Carroll, O.M.I., &c. 

After the Gospel of the Mass had been chanted 
by the Deacon, Archbishop Eyre delivered a dis- 
course from Leviticus XXV. lo and ii, "And thou 
shalt sanctify the fiftieth year, and shalt proclaim 
remission to all the Inhabitants of thy land . . . 
because It Is the jubilee and the fiftieth year." His 
Grace referred to the long-established custom of 
celebrating the anniversaries of joyful events In the 


family circle; and instanced the twenty-fifth anniver- 
sary of a wedding being called the " silver jubilee." 
When the fiftieth anniversary Is reached, it is cele- 
brated with still greater rejoicing, and is called the 
** golden jubilee;" and he said that this was the 
cause of so many friends of St. Margaret's being 
assembled together on this day, because ''it is 
the jubilee, and the fiftieth year." He then briefly 
sketched the history of the foundation of the 
establishment by the late Bishop Gillls, aided by 
the generosity of Mr. Menzles of PItfodels, the 
vocation of its two first members, and the entrance 
of the Community to the Convent on the Feast 
of St. Stephen, 26th December 1834. 

His Grace remarked that the Feast of the First 
Martyr was a singularly appropriate day on which 
to enter on such an undertakino^ as the foundation 
of a convent. St. Stephen, when led before the 
council that was to condemn him to death, looked 
steadfastly to heaven, and there saw the Son of 
Man, standing at the right hand of God. The 
first object of Religious life Is to look steadfastly 
to heaven, and there to see Jesus Christ at the 
right hand of God ; In other words, the first work 
of Religious is their own sanctlficatlon, their second 
work Is the sanctlficatlon of others. In France 
the Ursullnes of Jesus are also known by the name 
of Sisters of the Incarnation, because this mystery 


is the chief object of their devotion ; and the whole 
aim of their hfe is the imitation of the Incarnate 
Word of God, by the practice of poverty, chastity, 
obedience and teachln^r. " This is the work that 
has been going on here for the last fifty years, 
and you will rejoice with the Sisters because it is 
their jubilee : to-day there is joy in Edinburgh, joy 
in Scotland, joy in this house, and joy also in 
heaven. There is the late Bishop Gillis, w^hose 
memory is still fragrant, and who must take great 
interest in the proceedings of this day. There is 
St. Margaret, that jewel of Scodand, who herself 
wished to be a nun, and could only with difficulty 
be dissuaded from carrying her desire into effect, 
and whose marriage procured such happy results 
for Scotland. St. Margaret, patroness of Scotland, 
will rejoice to-day ; and let St. Margaret be your 
model and your pattern in dealing with children. 
My dear Sisters, all I could wish to say, is to 
encourage you in the good work in which you are 
engaged, and in the life you are leading. Persevere 
in the piety you practise in the cloister, as this is 
one of the greatest gifts of the Holy Ghost. You, 
my dear children, persevere in humility, docility, 
and purity. All my other friends, you will strive 
to persevere in godliness, for, as St. Paul tells us. 
Godliness is profitable, as it promises blessings in 


the life that now is, and eternal happiness In the 
life that Is to come." 

At the conclusion of the Mass, the Very Rev. 
Provost M'Kerrell announced that special indul- 
gences had been granted by the Holy Father, 
on the usual conditions, to all who assisted at the 
Jubilee celebration in the Convent chapel, and that 
the Papal blessing and plenary indulgence would 
now be imparted by his Grace the Archbishop of 
St. Andrews and Edinburgh. The confiteor was 
chanted by the Deacon of the Mass, and the 
absolution and benediction given by the Arch- 
bishop, who then Intoned the " Te Deum." This 
magnificent expression of joy and thanksgiving 
was sung on a Gregorian tone, alternately by the 
choir and the whole body of the clergy and the 
congregation, and all present felt that it rose 
to the Throne of God from the hearts of all at 
St. Margaret's, together with those angelic voices 
that are for ever singing '' Sanctus, Sanctus, 

The music of the Mass was Haydn's No. 6, with 
Mozart's motetto "Splendente, &c.," at the offertory. 
The " Tannhaiiser March " was played as the clergy 
defiled out of the church. 

The service lasted till about half-past one, and 


at Its conclusion, the guests adjourned to the Con- 
vent refectory for refreshments. 

It had been arranged that a photograph should 
be taken of the Archbishops, clergy, guests, Com- 
munity and Pupils ; — and Mr. Shaw attended for 
the purpose. The unfavourable state of the weather, 
however, rendered the attempt Impossible, much 
to the disappointment of the whole party ; as such 
a photograph would have been a valuable memo- 
rial of the occasion. 

The clergy were now invited to go to the 
Community room, where a number of useful gifts 
were drawn by a lottery — the articles consisted of 
altar linen, vestments, and things likely to be of 
service in small missions. 

The plans by Mr. Macpherson, architect, Edin- 
burgh, for the enlargement of the Convent and 
chapel, were also exhibited. 

At three o'clock the bell summoned the com- 
pany to the chapel, where Benediction of the 
Most Blessed Sacrament was given by his Grace 
the Archbishop. The music was again most beau- 
tifully performed, the selection being GIrschner's 
''Ave Maris Stella," "O Salutaris/' by Gounod; 
Litany (specially arranged), and Verdussen's " Tan- 
tum Ergo." Handel's Hallelujah Chorus was 
given as the clergy left the Chapel. 

The ceremonial was under the direction of Canon 


Donlevy ; and having said this, it is unnecessary 
to add that everything was carried out with the 
most perfect order and decorum. It was by no 
means easy to arrange for so large a gathering of 
clergy in the hmited space of the Convent chapel, 
but difficulties vanished under the practised eye 
and hand of Canon Donlevy, who undertook the 
charge in the kindest manner possible. 

The music was under the leadership of Father 
Gray, S.J., to whom the Community are indebted 
for the skill with which this very essential part of 
the services was carried out, as well as for the 
beautiful selection of the pieces performed. The 
sound of orchestral music, and a full choir of 
trained singers is a very rare treat in a Convent 
chapel, and it Is all the more highly appreciated 
when, on some extraordinary occasion, it does 

At six o'clock the Archbishops, clergy, and a 
few old friends of the Convent were entertained 
at dinner, at Altchison's Rooms, 75 Queen Street. 
The chair was taken by his Grace the Archbishop 
of St. Andrews and Edinburgh, on whose right 
hand was Archbishop Eyre. Almost all the clergy 
before named were present at the dinner ; the other 
gentlemen present were A. V. Smith Sligo, Esq., 
of Inzievar; J. Stuart, Esq. of Ballechin ; J. Mon- 
teith, Esq. of Carstairs ; Colonel Gordon, Dr. Moir 


Dr. Horsley, Gregory O'Nell, Esq., A. Macpher- 
son, Esq., F. S. Carragher, Esq., D. M. Maguire, 
Esq. It was intimated that apologies regretting 
their inability to be present at the Golden Jubilee 
celebration, had been received from Bishop Mac- 
donald, Aberdeen ; Bishop Rigg, Dunkeld ; Bishop 
Angus Macdonald, Argyll and the Isles ; Bishop 
M'Lachlan, Dumfries ; Bishop Bewick, Hexham 
and Newcastle ; the Right Rev. the Abbot of Mount 
St. Bernard's, Leicester; the Right Rev. Mon- 
signor Canon Thomson, Hexham ; Canon O'Neill, 
Dublin; the Very Rev. J. Bennett, C.SS.R. ; F. 
Pinet, O. M. J. F. Gleeson, CM ; Rev. F. Kirsopp ; 
Rev. James Clapperton, Rev. John Sutherland, &c., 

The first toast proposed from the chair was that 
of the Pope. As a gentleman, a peacemaker, a 
scholar, and a diplomatist, the Archbishop said that 
Leo XIII. was the admiration of all the world. 
It was the most marvellous sight in the world to 
see the man of blood and iron, who swore that he 
would never go to Canossa, now bowing low before 
the Pontiff, and not only asking him to act as 
arbiter in a dispute between Spain and Germany, 
but respectfully accepting the decision, though 
unfavourable to himself, and then proclaiming to 
the world his respect for Leo XIII. It was be- 
cause he joined together the strength of the lion 


with the meekness of the lamb, that the Pope had 
conquered Prince Bismarck. 

In next proposing- '' the Queen " the Archbishop 
spoke of the virtues by which her Majesty had 
endeared herself to her subjects, and expressed a 
hope that her jubilee next year would be celebrated 
in a manner worthy of the loyalty and devotion of 
her subjects. 

The Very Reverend Provost M'Kerrell, of 
Innerleithen, proposed the health of the Arch- 
bishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh. They 
had formerly known him, he said, as a simple 
missionary Priest, fulfilling the important and 
arduous duties of his charge in a quiet and un- 
ostentatious way. Yet, at the same time, all knew 
the high qualities hidden under that humble ex- 
terior ; and it was only true to say that not only 
the Archdiocese of St. Andrews and Edinburgh, 
but the whole Church in Scotland had reason to be 
proud of its spiritual adviser. The imposing cere- 
monies of that day might be taken as a happy 
inauguration of blessings awaiting the Church in 

The Archbishop briefly returned thanks for the 
kind manner in which his health had been proposed, 
and then gave the toast of the evening, " Prosperity 
to St. Margaret's Convent." *' It is," said he, *' a red 
letter day for the ladies who keep the fiftieth year 

2 B 


of their foundation, and a happy day for Scotland. 
I need not enlarge on the claims St. Margaret's has 
upon us. The Sisters have had their share in 
the increase of Catholicism in Scotland within these 
last fifty years. I need not especially refer to the 
vast number of churches and schools established 
during that space of time, carried on successfully, 
and in which the Sisters have had a share. A 
branch of St. Margaret's has for many years been 
doing good work at Perth, not only in attending 
to the poor prisoners at the penitentiary there, but 
also in educational labours in the city. We have 
every reason to be proud of the good work begun 
by Bishop Gillis fifty years ago. There were in 
the company at the Jubilee celebrations to-day, 
some ladies and gentlemen who were present at 
the opening of the Convent, and I trust that they 
will see the diamond Jubilee of St. Margaret's." 

Mr. Smith Sligo, of Inzievar, in the name of the 
ladies of St. Margaret's Convent, returned thanks 
for the way in which the toast had been honoured. 
He was one of those present at the opening cere- 
mony, and as for his brother (the chairman), he 
was a little acolyte at the altar. Mr. Smith Sligo 
then contrasted the state of religion fifty years ago, 
with that which they saw at the present day, and 
referred much of the progress which had been made 
to the good work and influence of religious orders. 


The Rev. Father Whyte, S.J., proposed ''the 
Guests," naming especially Archbishop Eyre and 
Mr. Monteith, who both returned thanks, Mr. 
Monteith " recalHng the fact that his mother had 
been received into the Church at St. Marearet's. 

Father Whyte, who acted as Guest-master, said 
that the dinner at which they were assembled was 
remarkable in one particular, — in that all present 
were the guests of invisible hostesses. The Sisters 
had begged him to express their thanks to all who 
had assisted in the festivities of the day, and espe- 
cially to Canon Donlevy for the trouble he had 
taken in his arduous labours as Master of Cere- 
monies. Canon Donlevy, in reply, said it gave 
him great pleasure to do anything for St. Mar- 
garet's ; and he called attention to the perfect 
manner in which the choir had acquitted them- 
selves of the beautiful music that had accompanied 
the services. Father Gray said he was sure the 
choir were happy to render service to the Sisters 
of St. Margaret's. 

The Vicar-General, the Very Rev. W. Grady, 
proposed the health of Father Whyte, who briefly 
replied, and the company shortly after dispersed, 
several of the clergy having to leave Edinburgh 
by train that evening. 

The poor could not be forgotten on such a day 


and indeed they had been the subject of much 
thought for many months past. Large quantities 
of clothing had been made up ; and, to insure the 
distribution of these articles to the deservinof and 
really necessitous, a division was made, and a 
portion sent to the Brotherhood of St. Vincent of 
Paul, of the three Conferences of St. Mary's, St. 
Patrick's, and the Sacred Heart. The Presidents 
of the Conferences sent their thanks to the Reverend 
Mother for these donations. 

The aged poor, under the care of the Little 
SisterSj were also to have a share In the Feast. 
A substantial dinner was provided for them, and, 
doubtless, was fully appreciated. 

The Children of the Poor Schools In Perth had 
a special entertainment ; so that all who had any 
claim on St. Margaret's were united In one joyous 

At St. Margaret's the day was happily closed In 
company with some Religious from the other con- 
vents In Edinburgh, by a few hours spent with the 
Pupils, who entertained the visitors with music and 

On the following day the Pupils from St. Ann's 
passed the afternoon at the Convent, when several 
groups were photographed. The Rev. Charles 
Gordon, S.J., gave Benediction, at which the '' Te 


Deum " was sung by a choir formed of former 
Pupils of the school, who volunteered their services 
in honour of the occasion. 

The relic of St. Margaret remained exposed dur- 
ing the Octave, at the close of which It was vene- 
rated by the Community and children ; and thus the 
celebration of the Jubilee terminated. 

If the anticipation of a happy event is in itself a 
joy, surely the remembrance of past happiness is no 
less an abiding source of delight. The preparations 
for the Jubilee were full of pleasure to all the Com- 
munity ; and now that the celebration is over, and 
the usual quiet routine of convent life again reigns 
at St. Margaret's, the Sisters feel thankful for the 
blessing which fell upon their Festival, the happiness 
that pervaded the whole, and for the kindness they 
received from all their friends. 

Many were the Masses offered on St. Margaret's 
Day for her Convent in Edinburgh by holy Bishops 
and Priests ; many were the fervent prayers that 
rose to heaven from religious communities through- 
out the United Kingdom, and in far distant countries, 
that God's blessing may still rest upon His work, 
and that the coming years may bring with them a 
yet greater abundance of the Divine grace and aid, 
increased opportunities for promoting God's glory 



and His reign In souls, and a fuller knowledge and 
love of the Word Incarnate. 

Such are the petitions that were offered up for 
St. Margaret's on the Jubilee Day, and they are 
echoed in the heart of every Sister of the Com- 

The Jubilee has opened a new era for St. Mar- 
garet's. Those who have read the foregoing pages 
of its history, have seen that its career has not been 
unmixed with trials and sorrows ; but whether in 
prosperity or In adversity, the hand of God has 
guided and protected the work, and brought it to 
the close of its first half-century of existence. 

May the same Fatherly Hand continue to bless 
the succeeding years, and may the joyful Festival of 
the Golden Jubilee be as the foretaste of that ever- 
lasting felicity which will be the portion of those 
who are ''faithful unto death." 


BX 2599 .S75 E3 1886 SMC 

History of St- Margaret s 
Convent Edinburgh- the 
first religious house ^ . .